S-1151 12/06/09 2SIA/3C (O) #63; (S) #66; LSB; (C) #60
Texts: Malachi 3:1-7; Philippians 1:2-11; Luke 3:1-14
Theme: “I Send My Messenger” (Malachi 3:1)
Question: “Would you say you are messenger?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Second Sunday in Advent is from the O.T. Lesson: “Behold, I send My Messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:1).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
Saints in Christ, there are many messengers that we know of. There is the messenger that is the news anchor on the radio or TV who delivers the news (mostly bad!) of the day. I am sure that you have listened to the bad news lately—Afghanistan, Tiger Wood’s problem and others. There is Instant Messenger that you may have on your computer or cell phone that allows INSTANT contact with someone a world away. But during this Advent season we turn our attention to ancient messengers. These ancient messengers would do heroic things to bring the message that they were called upon to deliver.
No greater example of this exists in antiquity than the messenger Pheidippides,( FUH-dip-I-dees). According to legend, during a time of war between the people of Ancient Athens and the Persians, the battle was not going well for the Athenians. The commanders send Pheidippides, from Athens to Sparta to ask for help. He ran the entire 150 mile ONE WAY trip. When he arrived in Sparta, the Spartans were not willing to send troops to help. So he RAN all the way back to Athens to deliver the depressing news. Then after getting to the site of the battle the next day Pheidippides, was again sent to deliver a message. This time the message was not bad news. He carried the message of victory over the Persians back over the 26.2 mile distance between Marathon and Athens. But the messenger service came at a price. All of the miles covered in such a short time cost Pheidippides, his life. According to lore, he delivered the message of victory as a last act before he collapsed and died.
Ever since Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens people all over the world have been trying to repeat what was done so long ago. We know it today as a Marathon. Today, we have a messenger sent by God not to run a Marathon, but to convey the Message of God to His people.
Listen to the way the Holy Spirit moved Malachi to write these words: “Behold, I send My Messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:1).
The reading from Malachi says that God will send His messenger to prepare the way of the Lord’s coming. The name “Malachi” means “My messenger.” Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. He was the last prophetic voice until John the Baptist, a period of four hundred years. His ministry took place following the return of the captives from exile in Babylon. He came pointing to another messenger John the Baptist.
John came as the forerunner who will prepare the Way of the Lord. The Baptizer came to call sinners to repentance. The Baptizer came to tell people to prepare for the coming of Christ. They needed to know they are in need of a Savior who will take away their sins and make them saints.
In these Words of Malachi the Lord of heaven and earth stated. “Behold, I send My Messenger…” This messenger is not John the Baptizer, not even Malachi himself; even though they are messengers of God. He was pointing to the True messenger—the heaven-sent Messenger Jesus the babe of Bethlehem.
Notice what Malachi calls Him: “The Messenger of the Covenant.” He is reminding the people of God of His covenant and promise in the Garden of Eden. There God promised our fallen parents that He would send His Son as the seed of the woman to crush Satan’s head; to take away their sins and cover them with His righteousness.
Down through the centuries, God’s people raised expectant eyes to the heavens waiting for the Savior to come. Now four hundred years before Bethlehem, Malachi says with great joy, “The Messenger of the Covenant” the Promised Savior will come. And the way he says it as if He has already come.
400 years prior to Bethlehem’s visit, the words were announced that He is coming. The Eternal God would come down to earth He had created to work among the creatures He had made and who in sin had turned away from Him. That’s the miracle in the manger. That’s the real reason for my joy. Others look at the poor baby wrapped in rags and miss the meaning of Christmas. They see only a man and actually see nothing. How sad for them.
If Jesus were only a human being, I would have reason to celebrate and rejoice. Then I could just as well forget about Christmas or change the name of the season for whatever makes me feel good. However, the One who has come, is the Messenger of the Covenant—Jesus the babe of Bethlehem.
And why did He come? He came for me a sinner. He took on flesh and blood for me. He lived for me a perfect life. He died my death and He rose for me so that I can be assured that I will rise from the grave some day.
The Messenger of the Covenant has come. And what a strange Messenger He is. It led Him from the throne of splendor into the poorest crib imaginable, a manger full of straw. It surrounded Him with our skin and saddled Him with our sins. It brought Him into our lives and hearts.
Behold, “I Send My Messenger!” God spoke the prophet Malachi. Sadly the messenger has been replaced with another. We know him as Santa Claus. But do you know how Santa Claus even came to be? Today, the Church remembers the man known as St. Nicolas. (My wife would enjoy this as she is of Dutch Origin). St. Nicolas in the Dutch language is Sente Klaus. And from the Dutch to the English we have Santa Claus. But Santa Claus is not the Messenger. Even thought many people think he is the reason for Christmas.
Malachi told us of the Messenger who is to come and has come. What about the 21st Messengers? Is it you? Are you willing to be the bearer of God’s Good News to the world? I pray that you are. For God uses all types of messengers. Just as Pheidippides brought the news of victory over the Persians, we, God’s beloved people His messengers of today, take the message of the victory that the Messenger of the Covenant has won for us; to the world—a world who still don’t know this Messenger—Jesus Christ.
God grant us the strength and stamina to be faithful messengers sharing with them the Grace and peace of the Lord, Jesus—the Babe of Bethlehem. Amen.
Now the peace…