S-1349-2MIA/C 12/12/2012 Hymns: #63 #456; #457
Texts: Psalm 95; Isaiah 45:20-25; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 1:1-8
Theme: “On Your Knees” (Mark 1:4) [2nd in sermon serious]
Question: “When was the last time you were on your knees?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Second Midweek in Advent is from the Gospel of Mark “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).
O most holy people of God, many people travel long distances during the Advent and Christmas Season to be with family and friends, Tonight, as we continue to travel closer to the manger, I invite you to travel with me not across the state, but across the centuries back to Palestine. The setting is Judea in the first century.
There in the wilderness of Judea a rugged man has come upon the scene. His appearance is so different you can’t help but take notice. He is dressed unlike other prophets, he speaks differently from the regular rabbis and his words sting the heart. He states “repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of sins.” Many from the surrounding communities have come to listen to him. He has come to proclaim that Jesus, the long expected Messiah has arrived.
This is the message that John was commissioned to do. His message was one that needed to be heard and clearly stated—REPENT—Fall on your knees before God Almighty and confess your sins. Great crowds came to hear him as the excitement grew. A stern preacher, he exposed their sins, broke through their façade of self-righteousness and religiosity. Confessing their sins, they repented and humbled themselves in a Jordan River baptism. Forgiven, they awaited the appearance of “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
This is the same message that we 21st century Christians need to hear too. I am not amazed at seeing all of the preparations for the Christmas season—many prepare their homes, offices, businesses and even churches. They go through the malls looking for every gift that they think they need; but amazed that not many prepare their hearts for the Christ child.
It is to the world—our world that John speaks tonight saying, “Be on your knees!” Fall before the Babe of Bethlehem, the Man from Galilee, and the Lamb of Calvary. Yes, be on your knees and acknowledge your sins before Him to receive the gift of forgiveness He came to offer to you and to the world. PAUSE.
One of my dear friends, a pastor, shared this story with me of a man who was battling the demon of alcohol. A former alcoholic became a follower of the Lamb. Daily, as he wakes up, he kneels down to ask His Lord and Savior to give him help and strength to face the challenge of the day and to live His life as the precious soul He rescued from the disease of alcoholism. While your demon may not be alcohol, it could be lust, gambling, pornography, lying, gossiping or whatever your demon may be…The Lord’s bids YOU to daily get down on your knees ask Him to help and strengthen you in your daily walk.
Study Scripture and you will see many people who have bowed the knees before the Lord Almighty—Jesus Christ. In the O.T. we witness two of the heavy weight prophets, Moses kneeling before the guest Jesus Christ at the burning bush; and Joshua falls on his face to the ground when Jesus appears to him (Exodus 3 and Joshua 5).
In the nativity story, we see the shepherds running to Bethlehem and kneeling before the New Born Savior and a little later, the Wise men, as they offered their gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense knelt to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords—Jesus Christ.
Throughout the centuries men and women from every tribe, nation, language, race and color have knelt before His manger to confess their sins and worship Him as their Lord and Savior. And you and I, too, are encouraged and exhorted to do the same.
Both in the O.T. lesson and Epistle lesson we are told that all people will one day kneel before Him. Some will kneel by choice because they know Him, love Him and worship Him. And others will kneel by force because they never bowed the knee to Him.
But did you know that Your Lord and Savior knelt too? When Jesus was carrying out His ministry, He knelt. He knelt in prayer the night before He chose the 12 disciples. He knelt on many occasions when He prayed as He healed the sick and hurting, raised the dead and blessed the Sacrament of the Altar. But His most touching scene of kneeling is the night when He was betrayed in Gethsemane. He left the comfort of His companions and knelt to pray to His Father to take the Cup of wrath away from Him. Yes, He prayed earnestly on bended knees.
Likewise, you and I, as we continue to journey closer to the manger, are called to bow down on our knees before Him and worship Him—our Lord and God. PAUSE.
Saints in Christ, Christmas often provides a superficial joy of the tinsel, glitter, and wrapping paper variety. We sometimes come to Christ wearing masks, desiring sin and heaven, too. What secrets lurk in the shadows of our hearts—hidden adultery, a serious drinking problem, cheating on the job, bitterness and hatred toward another? John’s message pierces the façade, sweeps away the superficial, and penetrates to our hearts. Confessing, we humbly bow down on our knees and turn to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness and live daily in the humbling but joy-giving waters of our Baptism. True excitement in the air, new life and hope, from this rugged preacher who preaches to us in our own wilderness.
We fall to our knees for He fell to His, in our stead! Yes, we may find “happiness” in the glitz and glamour of tinsel and tree, but these never drive us to our knees in humble awe, repentance, or thanksgiving! Only God in our flesh and God in our place on the Cross could do that.
There is a very familiar hymn that is cherished and loved by many called “O Holy Night” Please listen to the first stanza of that wonderful hymn:
O holy night, The stars are brightly shining; It is the night of Our dear Savior’s birth! Long lay the world In sin and error pining, Till He appeared And the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, The weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks A new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born! O night divine, O night, O night divine!
May God the Holy Spirit move us to be on our knees today, tomorrow and always as He moved the centurion who was by the cross of Christ and cried out “Surely this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54). We fall to our knees with him, for the Son of God fell to His knees before the Father on our behalf! And we fall our knees to worship Him who is our Savior. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DOE GLORIA