Sermon for 12.10.23 “Pathway to promise”

Text: Mark 1:1-8
Title: Pathway to Promise

Other readings: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2;8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a

(A) In the Name of the Father…Amen.
(B) The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
(C) Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
(D) Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
Gracious and Loving God, as we come together in Your presence on this
Advent Sunday, our hearts are filled with the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid.”
Lord, in a world where hardship and pain are all too common, we seek the
comfort that only You can provide.
You are our shepherd, the one who gathers the lambs in His arms and carries
them close to His heart.
As we navigate the valleys of life and confront the mountains of
challenges, remind us that You are always with us, gently guiding and
protecting us.
We are grateful for Your promise that every valley shall be lifted up, and
every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
This promise gives us hope and strength.
It reminds us that in You, every obstacle can be overcome, every burden can
be lightened. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we
pray. Amen.

(A) There was a time before there was the Internet when one had to read the
newspaper or listen to the tv or radio the old fashioned way.
(1) You had to go to the street corner where newspapers were sold to get a
(2) You had to go turn your tv or radio to listen to the news rather than
using the computer or smart phone.
(3) Before the days of newspapers being delivered to your house.
(4) You would hear the person selling the newspapers on the street corner:
(A) Get your papers here!
(B) Read all about it!
(B) John the Baptist served as the one crying out to the people on the
street corner:
(1) The long awaited Messiah is here!
(2) Put your faith and trust in Him now!
(A) A characteristic of the Gospel of Mark is the frequent use of the word
“immeditately” (Greek: εὐθύς, eutheōs,yoo-theh’-oce )
(3) Do not let obstacles or stumbling blocks such as:
(A) Outward appearance
(B) Preconceived ideas
(C) Your unworthiness
(1) Keep you from trusting in the Messiah Jesus!
(C) As the forerunner to Christ the Messiah, what was John’s job?
(1) Herald of Hope (Mark 1:1-4)
Mark 1:1–4 (NASB95)
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER
4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of
repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
(A) Here comes a new voice and he has something to say:
(1) Repent!
(a) Change course.
(2) Be baptized!
(a) More than Jewish custom
(b) A sign of ownership
(c) Coupled with water and Word: Jesus’ death and resurrection
(B) A baptism of repentance in the “wilderness”
(1) Obstacles to the faith
(2) Lives of chaos
(3) Waging war daily with our sinful flesh, the world, and the devil.
(C) What does this mean for us today?
(1) Remember your Baptism into Christ!
(a) You are His, He is yours.
(2) The Lord takes us as we are but does not want us to stay that way.
(a) We are to live lives transformed by Christ:
(1) From living a life of the Law
(2) To a life in the Gospel.
(b) Romans 12:1–2 (NASB95)
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your
bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual service of worship.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing
of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is
good and acceptable and perfect.
(2) Repentance and Renewal (Mark 1:4-5)
Mark 1:4–5 (NASB95)
4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of
repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of
Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River,
confessing their sins.
(A) The radical concept of repentance
(1) Quick analogy
(a) The Titanic
(B) A call to do away with the ritual practices in order to save ourselves
and embrace the One who has fulfilled every point of the Law for us.
(1) Christ the Lord!
(C) Repentance is completely turning around and going in the opposite
(1) Living a life of sin? Turn around and trust Christ!
(2) Living a life filled with worry and strife? Turn around and trust
(3) Living a life filled with pain and suffering? Turn around and trust
(3) Messenger of the Messiah (Mark 1:6-8)
Mark 1:6–8 (NASB95)
6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his
waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.
7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier
than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.
8 “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
(A) The unworthiness of John and us and the greatness of Christ.
(1) We do not deserve Christ to bring us healing and restoration.
Matthew 8:8 (NASB95)
But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my
roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
(2) Unaware we are serving the Lord.
Matthew 25:37 (NASB95)
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and
feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
(3) Even the greatest of the apostles, Paul, saw himself as being unworthy
to be in the presence of his Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:9 (NASB95)
For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God.
1 Timothy 1:15 (NASB95)
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
(B) The power of Baptism
(1) Not just water–a sign of ritual cleansing
(a) Every time you wash your hands, take a shower/bath, remind yourself of
your Baptism and how important it is to your life.
(2) Baptism saves you!
1 Peter 3:21 (NASB95)
Corresponding to that [water], baptism now saves you—not the removal of
dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ,

(4) Preparation for the Prince of Peace (Mark 1:7-8)
7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier
than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.
8 “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
(A) Repentance seems to be extreme.
(1) What is even more shocking?
(a) The Son of God giving up His place in heaven to come to earth, be born
a human, live, suffer, die, rise again, and ascend into heaven again, all
for us!
(b) The Prince of Peace living in each one of us!
(c) The Ruler over all creation ruling in our lives!
(d) To all this we say: Thank you, Lord!

(A) Hope. Repentance. Empowered in the Spirit. Fundamental transformation
of our lives.
(1) The message of John the Baptist.
(2) The themes of Advent.
(B) As we approach the season of Christmas:
(1) Reflect on what Christ’s first Advent means for you.
(2) Look with hopefulness and trust that Jesus will come again as He said.
(C) Let us pray:
Dear Lord God, heavenly Father, during this season of Advent, as we prepare
our hearts for the coming of Your Son, Jesus Christ, help us to hear Your
voice crying out in the wilderness of our lives, calling us to make
straight in the desert a highway for our God.
May our hearts be open to receive Your love and grace, and may our lives
reflect the glory of the Lord revealed in Christ.
O Lord God, we pray for those among us who are in need of Your comforting
For those who are ill, bring healing;
for those who are grieving, bring peace;
for those who are lost, bring guidance.
May Your gentle hand lead them, and Your love surround them.
As we continue in worship,
renew our strength,
lift us up on wings like eagles,
help us to run and not be weary,
to walk and not faint.
May our worship be pleasing to You,
and may our hearts be transformed by Your enduring love.
We offer this prayer to You in Your name, O God our Father, in the name of
Your Son Jesus Christ, our Savior, who is coming again in glory, and in the
name of the Holy Spirit, who keeps us in the one true faith.
(D) The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(E) In the Name of the Father…Amen.