Hope Lutheran Church
December 17, 2023
John 1:6–8, 19–28
It happens over and over again. God takes what everyone else would call foolish or ridiculous, and uses it to accomplish his plans for salvation.
He takes a man like Abraham who was worshipping idols and false gods, and makes him the father of a nation that would bring God’s chosen Savior into the world.
He calls someone like Moses, a man who had left his people and was content to live in the house of his father-in-law and sends him back to the land he had left so he could lead God’s people out of slavery and take them to a far-off promised land.
And God stays faithful to that group of people, even though they’re so unfaithful to him and act like they want nothing to do with him.
It’s one of those themes you see time and time again when you open the pages of the Bible. God takes the things that look so foolish, so out of place, the things no one else would really give a second thought to, and says this is how he’s going to carry out his work of saving mankind from its problem of sin.
That theme that runs throughout Scripture is what I kept on thinking about as I read these verses we’re gonna spend a few minutes on this morning.
I mean, can you imagine what it would be like if a preacher like John the Baptizer showed up today? We didn’t hear it this morning, but do you remember how John the Baptizer is described in other places?
He wore clothes made out of camels’ hair, his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey. He did his ministry out in the wilderness, but the wilderness for Jewish people wasn’t what he think of when we think of “wilderness” – lush greenery, calm rivers, cute little forest animals. In Israel, the wilderness was basically a wasteland. It was the desert. It was dangerous.
So as I hear what John was like and where John was as he did his ministry, I kinda scratch my head. “Really God? This is the one you want to prepare the way for your Son?” Why would God work through John the Baptizer? Why would you have him do ministry in the desert?
Well because this is a theme in the Bible, and we get to see it so clearly here today: The more lowly the messenger, the more glorious the message. Because by doing it all that way, it shows you and me that this can be nothing other than the power of God working for our salvation.
God used this humble, lowly messenger to prepare the way for his Son. To be a witness and point people to Jesus. To point people to the light that has come into the world.
God’s still doing the same thing today. We, like John, get to be witnesses. We who know Jesus and what he has done for us, we get to point others to him. We’re all a bunch of lowly messengers, but the message we get to share is so glorious.
The more lowly the messenger, the more glorious the message.
And it was no different when it was time for God’s Son to come into the world. Think about it. That God would become a man? Just that on its own sounds foolish. But then think about the circumstances of that Son’s life.
If you were the one in control, if anyone else were calling the shots, do you think they would have the eternal Son of God born in a barn to a virgin? Would they have that child grow up in the home of poor parents in some backwater town? Would that child grow up to face rejection, get beaten, and get killed for reasons he didn’t deserve?
But it’s there where God shows us again and again how he’s used lowly things of this world to give us free and full salvation. It’s there that God reminds us again that at the cross Christ paid the price sin demands. And because it’s such a backward and foolish thing, because it’s something no person would ever come up with on their own, it shows us that it can’t be anything other than power from God he’s used to save us.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians, he says just that: Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus.
The more lowly the messenger, the more glorious the message. We see that with John the Baptizer. We see that with us. We see that with Jesus himself. And what a glorious message it is. Amen.