Who on earth are you?
- William Willimon, Dean of the Chapel at Duke University, once said that it is common to hear "What are you getting for Christmas?" at this time of year.
- Willimon says, Such a question plays right into the hands of the commercialism and materialism that mars the Christmas season.
- And the answer is often about what tangible gift we hope someone will give us.
I. Strange man:
- John picked an odd place to do his preaching. It was out in the wilderness.
- The idea of wilderness recurs throughout the Bible.
- A wilderness can be a wasteland or just an uninhabited place.
- It can be grassy and alive or dry and dead.
- The Israelites wandered in the wilderness.
- Jesus fed the 5000 in the wilderness.
- Wilderness is synonymous with God's provision. An appropriate place for JB to preach.
- Mark describes him as a man wearing a camel's hair hide and eating off the land.
- Luke describes him as a very confrontive and blunt man calling the crowds, snakes.
- Bear fruit that befits repentance.
- Share what you have with others.
- Be baptized.
- He came to testify to the light, John 1;7.
- He confessed, 'I am not the Messiah, John 1:20.
- I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness... John 1:23.
- I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal, John 1:27.
II. A debate with our culture:
- John's audience might well have been a crowd you might see at the Merced Mall or at a parade downtown.
- They were people with a wide variety of wants and needs.
- They were curious, at some level, about JB's message.
- Who are you? they asked. Perhaps thinking that John was the Messiah.
- Apparently JB had a "messianic" appearance, in their view.
- Comfort, O comfort my people... Isaiah 40:1.
- Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low... Isaiah 40:4.
- A voice cries out: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, Isaiah 40:3.
- He called them to repent, John 3:8.
- He called them to get ready for Messiah and make a straight highway, Luke 2:4.
- The point of JB's message was to call attention to the LIGHT.
- JB called Jesus the true light, which enlightens everyone, John 1:9.
- Our relationship to the light depends on our relationship to the darkness. In J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings there is a character named Gollum.
- Gollum began life as a normal human boy.
- But his murder of his brother in order to possess a shiny ring caused him to retreat from light.
- From that point on he lived in a subterranean place, hated the light, and became distorted in his appearance.
- It's a similar process for anyone who flees from the light, and I think that is the idea that Tolkein had as he created Gollum.
- We are in the dark about relationships.
- We are in the dark about money and the material world.
- We are in the dark about power and how to use it.
- We are in the dark about sex.
- We are in the dark about values.
- John the Baptist is a good reality check for this question, What are you getting for Christmas?
- The gospel writer, John, said that JB was a man sent from God...as a witness to testify to the light.
- JB was, in effect, saying, What you got for Christmas was light.