Luke 1.68-79; John 1.14-17
Growing up, I loved playing basketball. I played on my high school’s varsity basketball team, I played intramurals, I played on my driveway and I had a little Nerf hoop over my bedroom door so I could play in my room. Part of basketball and any other sports culture is the psychological strategy of “talking trash.” Talking trash is where you are trying to psych out your opponent by telling them what they won’t be able to do against you and what you will do against them. But one of the unspoken rules of talking trash is that you better be able to back it up. If you can’t back it up, you better shut up.
As we continue in the season of Advent, part of the expectation of the coming Christ results from prophets, messengers, forerunners who prepare people’s hearts for the soon-coming Savior. The greatest of these, according to the Jesus himself, was John the Baptizer. John tells people to prepare their hearts, to turn back to following God, and he tells them the good news that salvation is on the way, forgiveness is on the way, peace is on the way. In next week’s message, we’ll look a little more closely at part of John’s message of preparation.
There’s only one reason that John was considered the greatest forerunner: Jesus followed. If Jesus hadn’t followed, John would have been just another quack street preacher getting people all excited with nothing to show for it. If incarnation doesn’t follow prophecy and preaching, prophecy and preaching are worthless. If the words don’t take on flesh, they are as vacuous as the air on which they traveled. In the gospel of John, chapter 1, it says that the WORD of God became FLESH in the person of Jesus Christ.
My concern for us as Christians as we continue to talk about Jesus’ coming and tell them that they need to believe in Jesus and follow Jesus is that Jesus never actually shows up after we talk. In our lives, does incarnation follow our words? Do tangible acts of love, peace-making, justice-bringing, comfort-giving, forgiving follow our talk about a Savior who is on the way? There’s nothing wrong about talking about Jesus, but he better show up shortly after. Or else we’re just talking trash.
We long for the second advent of Jesus Christ. But maybe instead of just talking about something of which we don’t know the day or the hour, we should begin to be the incarnation of Jesus now as we wait for his glorious return.