Sermon for 12.05.21 Second Sunday in Advent
Text: Luke 3:1-20
Theme: The glad sound of faith
*In the Name of the Father…Amen.*
*The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.*
*Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.*
*Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:*
Hark the glad sound! The Savior comes,
The Savior promised long;
Let ev’ry heart prepare a throne
And ev’ry voice a song.
He comes the pris’ners to release,
In Satan’s bondage held.
The gates of brass before Him burst,
The iron fetters yield.
*John the Baptist exhorts his hearers to bear fruits worthy of repentance
by caring for the poor and the naked. *
He urges believing tax collectors and soldiers to treat those under their
power with honesty and decency. Such life-changing repentance is
demonstrated beautifully in the stories of two men.
*Consider Zacchaeus, the short, dishonest, rich tax collector who climbed
up in a tree to see Jesus passing by. Surprisingly, Jesus did not pass him
by. He called Zacchaeus by name, visited with him in his home. Zacchaeus,
moved to repentance by Jesus’ mercy and love, cried out, *
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if
I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the
amount.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house,
because this man, too, is a son of Abraham (cf Luke 3:8!). For the Son of
Man came to seek and to save the lost” (cf Luke 19:1–10).
*Later in the history of the Church, there is the story of a man named
Martin of Tours. *
Born to a pagan family, Martin later became a Christian and was a soldier
in the Roman army.
One afternoon, approaching the gate of a city, Martin encountered a beggar,
cold and half-naked.
Martin drew his sword and cut his heavy soldier’s cloak in half, wrapping
it around the shivering man.
*These are concrete ways in which Jesus’ mercy shaped the lives of a tax
collector and a Roman soldier.*
What fruits of repentance will Jesus’ mercy bring forth in your life?
*“**Hark the glad sound!**”** we sing during Advent.*
“Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding!
‘Christ is near,’ we hear it say.
‘Cast away the works of darkness, All you children of the day!’ ” (*LSB*
*Listen! There is something thrilling to hear! *
But don’t just *sing about* listening to the glad sound;
don’t just *sing about* listening to the thrilling voice.
May we also ourselves *listen * to that glad and thrilling voice!
*What does it sound like? *
Well, the glad and thrilling sound in our text this morning sounds
something like this:
“You brood of vipers!
Produce fruits worthy of repentance!
Share your clothing and your food, don’t cheat others out of money, and be
content with what you get paid.”
*At this point you may be saying to yourself: Pastor Bacic, now, hold on
right there! *
This was supposed to be a glad sound, a thrilling voice.
But when you actually listen to John the Baptist, it just sounds like he’s
preaching at us.
And who likes to be preached at?
We don’t much care for somebody standing up and telling us we’re bad and
wrong and telling us we need to do this or that.
That’s preachy, some might say.
And to the sinful human heart, there’s nothing worse than being preached
Who does that person think he is to tell me what to do?
That’s how our sinful hearts react.
*However, faith,, the faith in Christ which God has granted us in our
when *faith* hears preaching from God’s Word . . .
when faith hears that there’s a better life to be lived than the one I’m
living right now . . .
when faith hears that there’s a new King coming and a new Kingdom to live
in . . .
when faith hears that this King is merciful, that he does not condemn us
for our sins and our weakness, but that he is also the Lamb of God who
bears our sins on the cross . . .
when faith hears that this King comes not only to forgive us but also to
raise us up to newness of life . . .
Faith hears all this as a glad sound . . . as the most thrilling voice.
*Yes, my dear fellow sinners and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ:*
confess along with me today that God’s ways are better than our ways.
Confess with me today that our lives leave much to be desired before God.
And rejoice with me today at the glad news that Jesus Christ has come into
the world to grant sinners like us mercy and forgiveness, and to lift us up
to living a new and better life!
The good news of a new life may sound a little preachy, it may sound
irritating, to the sinful heart.
*But To Faith, the Voice That Urges Us to New Life in Christ Is a Glad
*Today, let**’**s consider John the Baptist**’**s thrilling call to a new
life in Christ by reflecting on three phrases from our text*
*1. 1 Faith, the Voice That Urges Us to New Life in Christ Is a Glad Sound
. . .Even when it calls us **“**You brood of vipers!**”*
*Phrase 1:* *“**You brood of vipers!**”** (verse 7). *
John the Baptist apparently wasn’t much of a charmer!
There are a lot of polite and acceptable ways to extend a greeting to
“How are you today?”
“It’s nice to see you.”
“Thank you for coming.”
“Ladies and gentlemen . . .”
Calling people the offspring of poisonous serpents, on the contrary—not so
*1.2 **In Matthew**’**s Gospel, Matthew emphasizes that John was especially
making this accusation against the Pharisees and Sadducees, but here in our
text from Luke, the Scripture shows us that John was also rebuking the
entire crowd of people who came to him with this stinging accusation: **“**You
brood of vipers!**”*
*And so this morning, John the Baptist aims that sharp accusation at each
of us as well: *
*“**You brood of vipers! *
*You children of snakes and of that ancient snake, the devil!**”*
*What on earth would possess this man to greet his guests in such a manner?
*And who was he, anyway, to say something like that about them**—**about
us!**—**this wild-looking man in the wilderness?*
* 1.3 **John was the messenger sent by God to prepare the people for the
coming Jesus Christ by leading them to repent of their sins, and through
repentance to find forgiveness for their sins in Jesus. *
*Calling people to repentance is just what John is doing by this
accusation: **“**You brood of vipers!**”*
*There is no path to true repentance that does not run through this
recognition: **“**Brood of vipers truly describes me!**”*
*This isn**’**t just a colorful way of speaking; this isn**’**t an
exaggeration just for effect. *
*Rather, in truth, I was, in my sinfulness, a child of the devil. *
*The sin which still pulses in my heart and veins is serious and vile,
poisonous and deadly. *
*Because of my sinfulness, I deserve no more kindness and clemency from God
than would be shown a venomous viper slithering on the ground. *
*The true repentance to which John the Baptist calls us is a repentance
which looks on our own sin as horrifying and repulsive**—**a repentance
which confesses, **“**I am a poor, miserable sinner.**”*
*Repentance does not look on sins with indifference or amusement, and
certainly not with pride, as if to glory in one**’**s shame. *
*Repentant hearts look upon our sin with dread and willingly agree that we
are indeed a **“**brood of vipers!**”*
* 1.4 **You could say that John**’**s harsh greeting, **“**You brood of
vipers,**”** framed up a narrow gate there by the Jordan River. *
*At that gate, some people, including many Pharisees and teachers of the
law, turned away and refused to believe John**’**s message. *
*But many others entered through that gate; they owned up to the label
*They came to John in repentance to hear the good news of the forgiveness
of their sins and to be baptized.*
*2. 1 Faith, the Voice That Urges Us to New Life in Christ Is a Glad Sound
. . . . Surely as it commands us to **“**Bear fruits in keeping with
*Phrase 2: **“**Bear fruits in keeping with repentance**”** (verse 8). *
John warns that true repentance and forgiveness is the only escape from the
severe judgment that is soon to come.
Don’t you dare think that a casual repentance that goes through the motions
without a genuine sorrow and turning away from your sins will save you.
Don’t you dare think that just because you are children of Abraham or
Missouri Synod Lutherans (minus having faith in Christ and trusting in Him
as your Savior) you are secure.
The judgment is coming; the axe is already laid at the foot of the tree.
Only through true repentance and forgiveness will sinners escape *“**from
the wrath to come**”** (verse 7).*
*2.2 **Our own Lutheran Confessions are very clear on this point. *
*They declare that good fruit, good works of every kind in life, should
follow repentance. *
*There can be no true conversion or repentance where resistance of sinning
and good fruits do not follow. *
*True repentance does not permit the indulgence of the body in lusts. *
*True faith is not ungrateful to God. *
*Neither does true faith hate God**’**s commandments. *
*In a word, there is no inner repentance unless it also produces the
outward turning away from sinning. *
*This, the Lutheran Confessions declare, is what John the Baptist means
when he says, **“**Bear fruits worthy of repentance**”** (see Apology to
the Augsburg Confession, XII 131**–**32).*
*2.3 **Yet it is also important to remember, dear friends, that John**’**s
message is described in our text as **“**good news**”** not bad news. *
*Just a few verses after today**’**s Gospel, we read: *
*“**With many other exhortations, [John] preached good news to the people*
*”** (verse 18, emphasis added). *
*And the good news is that whoever does repent of their sins finds
forgiveness as a:*
* free gift of God, *
*a free gift which does not depend on our own good works or good fruits,
but rather depends on the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus
*3. 1 Faith, the Voice That Urges Us to New Life in Christ Is a Glad Sound
. . . . So that we gladly reply, **“**What shall we do?**”*
*Phrase 3: The eager question of the people: **“**What then shall we do?**”**
(verse 10). *
For those who acknowledged their sins and received the joy and power of God’s
forgiveness, John’s words were not a threat, but rather a thrilling
encouragement and promise: “Now you will bear fruits worthy of repentance!”
Among those coming out to John, there were many who repented and were
baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.
Their hearts, relieved and exuberant, begged John to tell them: now what?
What shall we do now that we are forgiven?
What shall we do now that God has graciously welcomed us into his kingdom?
*3.2 **And John answered them:*
*“**Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever
has food is to do likewise**”** (verse 11). *
*Luke writes that **“**even**”** tax collectors and soldiers were asking
John, **“**What shall we do?**”** (verses 12, 14). *
*Luke seems amazed at this! *
Even tax collectors and soldiers, two occupations particularly known for
dishonesty and harassment,
even they were transformed by the thrilling news of the Messiah.
They gladly asked this prophet of God what they could do to express the
gratitude filling their hearts.
What kinds of things could they do that would be worthy of such great and
*3.3 **John**’**s answer to these questions was that the good fruits of
repentance and faith are changes in our daily lives. *
*Show others the same kind of generous and merciful love that God has shown
*St. Paul often wrote in this way, when he was encouraging the saints in
various cities. To the Colossians, Paul writes that he prays they may:*
“walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit
in every good work” (Colossians 1:10).
*To the Philippians, he writes:*
“Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians
*To the Ephesians:*
“I therefore . . . urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to
which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
*And to the Thessalonians: *“Walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you
into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessa. 2:12).
*By faith, we, too, desire to live lives worthy of our great Savior, worthy
of the great salvation which has been proclaimed and given to us. *
Not that our lives, in themselves, *are* worthy of the Lord.
We will never bear enough good fruit in our lives that we can say, “There,
now *that**’**s* the kind of life worthy of the Lord.”
All Christians fall short, and that is why we live always in repentance,
and that is why our confidence and trust must always be in Christ alone.
*This Advent, then, we listen anew to the glad, thrilling message of John
the Baptist: *
“The Savior is near!”
“The kingdom of God is near!”
“Repent, and live out your new life in Christ!”
“Produce fruits worthy of repentance!”
*To some, it sounds preachy. *
*But by faith, we bow in repentance, we behold the mercy of Christ, and we
gladly reply, **“**What shall we do?**”** Amen.*
*Let us pray:*
*He comes the broken heart to bind, *
*The bleeding soul to cure,*
*And with the treasures of His grace *
*To enrich the humble poor. *
*Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace, *
*Thy welcome shall proclaim,*
*And heav’n’s eternal arches ring *
*With Thy belovèd name.*
*Text: Public domain*
*2 Corinthians 13:14* * The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of
God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.*
*The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. *
*In the Name of the Father**…**Amen.*