Sermon for 12.17.23 “Not an impersonator”

Text: John 1:6–8, 19–28
Theme: Not an impersonator!
Other Lessons: Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24

(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 gather in Your presence, we are reminded of Your promises in Isaiah,
where You sent Your servant to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up
the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the

Lord, let Your Spirit be upon us, as we seek to embody Your grace and
compassion in our world.
We pray for those among us and around us who are burdened, for the
oppressed seeking justice, for the brokenhearted in need of healing, and
for all who yearn for freedom.
May Your comforting presence be their strength.
In the Name of the Father…we pray. Amen.

(A) June 19, 2018 is probably not a significant date for most of you.
(1) But it was for me! Never in my life did I ever dream that I would meet
Elvis Presley!
(2) First Care Outreach was that night.
(3) I don’t remember what we had for supper.
(4) But I do remember that Elvis was in the building!
(B) By now, you have probably figured out that it was not really Elvis that
was here that night.
(1) He was an impersonator!
(2) He looked like Elvis.
(3) He sounded like Elvis.
(4) He could pass himself off as the real thing.
(C) Again this week, as also last week on the Second Sunday of Advent, we
see a famous man suddenly appearing on the scene: John the Baptist.
(1) He was a strange man for sure, but he was the real McCoy.
(2) Unlike the Elvis impersonator, John Was Not an Impersonator of Jesus
but a True Witness of Christ!
(1) John refused to impersonate the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet in
order to be the center of attention.
(A) The Jews of Jerusalem wanted to know who that strange man was.
(B) Oh, John was a strange man indeed.
(C) Our Gospel lesson from last week declared:
Mark 1:6 (NASB95)
John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his
waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.
(D) This week’s Gospel declares in verse 23:
John 1:23 (NASB95)
THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
(A) A strange man on a strange mission.
(B) The Jews had a straightforward question to ask him:
(1) “Who are you?
(2) John’s answer was very plain and clear:
(a) “I’m not the Christ!”
(C) They kept asking more questions:
(1) “Are you Elijah?”
(a) John said, “I am not!”
(2) “Are you the Prophet, then?”
(a) John’s answer was even shorter. “No!” (see verse 21).
(D) John did not want to be the king of the hill;
(1) he did not want to be the center of attention.
(E) If there’s something we human beings are really good at, it’s trying to
be the king of the hill.
(1) We love to be the center of attention.
(2) We like when people pay attention to us, especially when we are doing
something good!
(3) This is a byproduct of the sinful nature.
(a) Be #1 at any cost!
(F) Jesus’ disciples had the same problem.
Mark 9:33–37 (NASB95)
33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to
question them, “What were you discussing on the way?”
34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another
which of them was the greatest.
35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to
be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He
said to them,
37 “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and
whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”
(1) Jesus’ advice?:
Matthew 20:26–28 (NASB95)
26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among
you shall be your servant,
27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to
give His life a ransom for many.”
(G) That was John. He knew exactly who he was and what he was supposed to
John 1:20 (NASB95)
And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
John 1:27 (NASB95)
“It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to
(H) John did not want to be what he was not!
(1) He was not an impersonator!
(2) He was not a pretender!
(2) He was content being what he was—only a witness pointing us to the Lamb
of God who takes away our sin.
(A) If the priests and Levites were on a mission, John had a mission of his
(B) That was determined even before his birth.
(1) His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, older and Elizabeth was unable to
have children.
(a) They abandoned their hopes of having a child.
(b) They thought their dream of having a child they could call their own
was gone.
(c) However, God had other plans for this couple.
(C) Being a priest, Zechariah was working in the temple when the angel
Gabriel appeared to him, saying:
Luke 1:13–15 (NASB95)
“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your
wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no
wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his
mother’s womb.
(D) Our Gospel lesson for today tells us that:
John 1:6-8 (NASB95)
6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might
believe through him.
8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
(1) John’s mission was sharp and laser focused:
(a) to be a witness
(b) a word that appears three times in our text!.
(2) What does a witness do?
(a) They talk about what they have seen and/or heard.
(b) In this case, John was called to witness about Jesus the Messiah!
(3) John was that voice calling in the desert.
(a) A voice calling people to repentance:
John 1:23 (NASB95)
WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
(4) When Jesus finally made his appearance, John was humble enough to say:
John 3:30 (NASB95)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
(a) Literal translation: More of Jesus, less of me.
(E) Illustration
(1) Look on the back page of the weekly announcements and you will find a
picture of the Isenheim Altarpiece.
(2) This painting is on display at the Unterlin­den Museum at Colmar,
Alsace, in France.
(3) It’s a beautiful piece of art, painted by Matthias Grünewald, depicting
the crucifixion.
(4) At the center, you see Christ on the cross. Mary, the mother of Jesus,
is shown at Christ’s right, collapsing in agony in the arms of John, the
beloved disciple of Jesus.
(5) Next to Mary is Mary Magdalene, praying on her knees.
(6) However, at Christ’s left, you see someone who, apparently, is out of
place, someone who doesn’t belong to that scene: John the Baptist, with a
lamb at his feet.
(7) John, you probably remember, was beheaded by order of Herod during the
time of Jesus’ ministry; he could not possibly have witnessed the death of
(8) But he’s there in the painting, and next to his right shoulder you read
in Latin:
John 3:30 (ESV)
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
(a) One more detail about John: he’s portrayed with a large index finger
pointing to Christ on the cross.
(b) This takes us back to what John said in chapter 1 of the Gospel of John:
John 1:29 (NASB95)
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of
God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:35–36 (NASB95)
35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples,
36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
(9) Historically, John is out of place in that painting, but from a
theological point of view, he’s standing in exactly the right place; his
index finger doesn’t leave any doubts why he should be there.
(10) John came to bear witness about the light, so that all might believe
through him (John 1:7–8).
(11) John had a big index finger pointing to Christ, the one he called the
Lamb of God, because it was all about Jesus!
(12) And this moment, the crucifixion, is really the moment John was
pointing to all along.
(13) It was all about Jesus and Him crucified then, and it’s still all
about Jesus and His cross now!
(F) John was not an impersonator;
(1) he didn’t pretend to be what he was not!
(G) Imagine being there when John said these words.
(1) John asks the crowd:
(a) “Did you come to see me?
(b) Let me tell you whom you need to see: not me, but Christ, the Lamb of
(c) It’s always all about Him!
(d) He’s the one who brings light into your broken lives, darkened by sin.
(e) He not only brings light, but he also brings life and salvation.
(f) He will suffer and die on the cross to forgive your sins.
(g) Behold Jesus, and not me!”
(H) Behold Jesus, and not John!
(1) John the Baptist is an Advent man; he came as a witness; he came to
prepare the way.
(2) But he didn’t want to stay in the way of anybody.
(3) With his testimony, he directs people to Christ, so that by believing
in Him, all may have eternal life and salvation.
(4) This is good news of great joy!
(3) We aren’t being impersonators either when we direct others to Christ;
we are only being what we are—baptized and redeemed children of God.
(A) As we think about John the Baptist and his role—being a witness,
directing people to Jesus—think also about this:
(1) Who was like John in your life?
(2) Who directed you to Christ?
(3) Who pointed to Jesus and said to you, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who
takes away the sin of yours”?
(4) Maybe it was your mother, your father, a family member, your teacher, a
neighbor, a friend, or a coworker.
(5) Someone that didn’t want to be at the center of attention but instead
pointed to the center, directed you to Christ!
(6) If that person is still around, can I ask you a small favor?
(7) Please, send that person a Christmas card and thank him or her for what
he or she did for you!
(8) If they are no longer around, pray a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord
for pointing you to Christ your Savior and Lord!

(A) John the Baptist is an Advent man!
(1) Have you ever thought about becoming an Advent person too?
(2) What about you becoming a John the Baptist to someone else?
(3) No, I’m not asking you to be an impersonator, someone who you are not!
(4) I’m just asking you to be what you are:
(A) a baptized and redeemed child of God, directing others to Christ!
(5) A witness for Jesus!
(B) Be a voice out there in the world, a voice that speaks the Word of
truth, a voice that calls to repentance and trust in the One who is coming.
(1) Stick out your big index finger and point to Christ!
(C) Direct people to Jesus.
(1) Tell someone that He’s coming.
(2) Tell people around you that the One who’s coming is not an impersonator
but the real deal!
(3) He is the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the
world, including yours and mine.
(4) Christ is the Light:
(A) the only Light that shines in the darkness,
(B) the Light that offers life and salvation to all people. Amen.
(D) Let us pray:
Lord, You have called us to be rebuilders of ruins, restorers of streets to
live in.
Guide our hands and hearts as we work towards creating a world that
reflects Your love and righteousness.
We thank You for Your faithfulness, for the promise of salvation and for
clothing us with garments of salvation, a robe of righteousness.
May our souls rejoice in You, as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as
a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up.
In Your loving and powerful name, we pray. Amen.
(E) The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(F) In the Name of the Father…Amen.