Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Eleventh Day of ChristMass

Posted on January 4, 2021 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Matthew 3:1-12 (NKJV)
3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John the Baptizer was no stranger to controversy. From his clothes to his demeanor, he did things that brought reaction from the world around him. It is no wonder that Herod would later have John imprisoned and beheaded. John was the last Old Testament prophet preparing the way for the Messiah.
What made John’s message controversial was that he preached that the Lord would bring judgement on those who refused to repent and believe in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. So, the world is offended by the idea that they do not measure up, that they cannot earn their way to God. Even more, the Pharisees and Sadducees were offended by him because they believed they had the proper traditions of Moses, and yet he called them a brood of vipers. Similarly, those outside of orthodox, truly confessional Lutheran fellowship (which is faithful to the historic, Scriptural, catholic faith) argue that they have proper tradition and are offended that Lutherans desire pure doctrine.
John was not controversial for the sake of controversy. What John demonstrates is that steadfast devotion to Christ and His Word will be, inevitably, controversial. Let us, by God’s gracious giving of the Holy Spirit and the power of our Baptism, also be steadfast in the Word as John demonstrates.
Prayer: Almighty and Everlasting God, direct our actions according to Thy good pleasure, that in the name of Thy beloved Son we may be made to abound in good works; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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