Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Advent – John 1:19-29
[John 1:19-29] This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Keeping John the Baptist in Christmas
This was the testimony, the witness, of John the Baptist. They came asking him, “Who are you?” John confessed, and did not deny, but confessed that he was not the Christ. They were coming to him, but it was not about him.
John the Baptist only came to point them to another – “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” – “the one whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” John came to point the people to Jesus. Those days baptizing in the wilderness were about the Christ.
What is your testimony, your witness? Nobody is coming and asking you who you are. But the season is saturated with the question, “What is Christmas all about?” Many of our favorite Christmas shows revolve around answering that question, “What is Christmas all about?”
Where do you point? Is Christmas about what you get? Getting a good gift from spouse, parents, kids? Is Christmas about what you give – giving the biggest and best for spouse or kids? We answer, “No” – but do our actions say otherwise?
Is Christmas about telling the kids all about Santa Claus? It’s a fun thing to do. But are you taking the time to tell the kids – maybe especially your grandkids – about the One whom this holiday really celebrates? What’s your witness and testimony on Christmas day?
Here’s the answer! Christmas is about kindness! Christmas is about family, togetherness, or generosity! No. I’m sorry, but no. Those are good things every day. But those are not what Christmas, in particular, is about.
You know the answer. Christmas is about the birth of the Christ – that one to whom John the Baptist pointed – Jesus Christ, the one born a King, the Son of God, who became the Lamb of God to save us from our sins.
To keep Christ in Christmas, you must be the John the Baptists of Christmas – those who point to the Child born and say, ‘Look! The Lamb of God is born. He is born to save you from your sin.’ Confess and do not deny, but confess it. You must live like there’s no one else to point to Jesus but you – because there is no one else but His people to point to Him.
In this season, there are many people celebrating something. You are here to be witness to the right answer to that question, “What is Christmas all about?” “What Child Is This?”, this babe, the Son of Mary?
Listen to the Christmas Scripture readings – listen to what you sing about this Child – so that you can bear witness. The angel said to Joseph about Mary and this Child, “She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.” “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’”. [Matthew 2:21-23]
Who is He? He is Savior – Jesus, “God who saves”. He is God who has become “God with us” by His birth. ‘God-with-us’ to live in man’s stead, to die in man’s stead, to overcome human death. God who is ‘Man-for-us’.
Jesus is born and is the world’s Savior. He has died and risen. It is done and finished. Sin is pardoned. Hell is vanquished. A new and holy life is given, now to be born in you. That Child who is born has done it.
To be the John the Baptists of Christmas, you must point out who this Child is and what He has done – bearing witness to what Christmas is all about. To do this, you’ll have to use words. And, moreover, you’ll have to speak with what is louder than words – your actions on Christmas morning.
What answer do your Christmas day actions give to the question, “What is Christmas all about?” Christmas day plans which include family and gifts but no worship of Christ in the house of His Father give an answer. Is it the right answer?
What witness are you giving this year to kids and grandkids? Be their John the Baptist. It will be easy to bear witness to Christ by what you do six days from now on Christmas morning at about 10am. Let the family schedule wait for the worship of Christ. Such plans will bear witness to what this day is really about to you.
Let’s keep the witness to Christ in Christmas. And may that day point also your eyes to the One who is your Savior, God-with-you, Lamb of God, born to save. Amen.