The Forerunner Chronicles

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.

6 thoughts on “The Forerunner Chronicles

  1. Pastor, my penatrating impression of your sermon today hinges on you say you liked basketball. I should have surmized that seeing your height, but it never impressed me because I thought all you 7’s did not play competive sports..
    I played 3 sports in high school and I liked basketball the best even though I was not a star player but was a starter.I was not a sda until 1950. My high school from 43-45.
    I was centered on this with you because my best friend outside sda is a person whom I worked with for 25 yrs, as we ran the Verdugo Mental Health ctr together. Me as ceo and he the clinical director.
    And we were from the midwest. He Ohio and me Michigan. We had similar economic and social statue. But he was a star basketball player and I was just a player. He was all xxx in his league. We would watch games together and still enjoy talking old times.
    We eat together each Tues evening and have for 20yrs since we retired..
    But your telling of trash talk is not something that our coach would have approved. In fact you had to show the utmost respect for your opponent, that was good sporsmanship.
    So as you talked I was thinking of getting you two together for lunch.
    We are near the same age but he being 3 yrs older than I went into the army before me and ended up in the battle of the buldge, a famous battle of Europe WWII.and I did state side duty.
    So i’ll work on that. Both Barbara and I liked you sermon immensly today.
    Cheers & blessings/
    Bro Wayne
    Not knowing how to have spell check on this is frustrating, so if it can be assessed let me know.

    • Thanks for your comments, Wayne. I certainly wasn’t a star player myself. And I wasn’t a good trash-talker (maybe that’s a good thing!). Don’t know what to do about spell check. You could type up your response in another program on your computer that has spell check and then copy and paste it into the reply box. I know that’s a hassle, but that’s the only way I would know how. Thanks again!

  2. As I said before, your topics are intriguing. It makes me think. The only thought of Jesus is amongst us thrills me both ways; makes me nervous (cause of my not so “Christian” way of life) at the same time am excited of His presence when I can talk with Him, reason, argue, discuss and cherish Jesus’ friendship and his companionship. Hope He as always is forgiving of my “non-Christianity” while I continue to understand Him through the human understanding.
    It is interesting to have this possibility to express our thoughts. Many times it is not possible to pull you out of the conversation you are having with other after church only to express my thoughts.
    Keep it up…! Share the blessings…!

    • Hey Jeevan,

      You’re right–it is a wake-up call to realize that Jesus is among us right now through the Spirit. Kind of sobering, but also, as you said, it is thrilling. For me, I have faith that God’s Spirit interacts with me from the posture of forgiveness and grace as far as my continued poor behaviors and patterns but at the same time is pushing me forward to live more in the way of Christ. It is a very peaceful, but at the same time, restless experience of knowing you’re fully accepted and loved by God while at the same time being challenged to serve God as the tangible presence of Jesus in the world.

      Thanks for your thoughts and for your encouragement to continue to have this venue for discussion.

  3. “The hands and feet of Jesus”, you are the first Adventist pastor I have heard say this. I first heard it as a mission statement while working for Catholic Healthcare West, (CHW). It is so much more illustrative of God’s grace. “the right arm of the message” doesn’t even talk about God and His love for mankind. “The hands and feet of Jesus” is a so much more appropriate expression of christian witness / action. Thank you for your courage to express this important message.

    • I don’t remember where I first heard that phrase, but it has stayed with me. It clarifies both my standing with Christ–that because of the salvation found through him I am now a part of him through his spirit; and my calling by Christ–to be his grace and compassion in the world.

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