An Advent sermon idea based on John 1:6-8, 19-28 about how to be the voice of the Savior to the world today.
John 1:6-8,19-28 NRSV
 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”  And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.”  Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”  He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,'” as the prophet Isaiah said.  Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.  They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”  John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know,  the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.”  This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
You don’t have to be the Savior of the world – that role belongs to Jesus alone. And when you begin to see yourself as merely the Voice, the channel, the bearer of his good news, suddenly life is far more simple and joy is far more easily attainable.
Remember the song, Joy to the World? No, not the Christmas song. The other song, by Three Dog Night, in which the lyrics go like this:
Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me
If you read the rest of the lyrics, you’ll know why you probably shouldn’t sing it in church this weekend, but I do love the chorus. While the song misses the real source of joy for the world, it does capture the hope of it – that all the world would experience the possibility of deep contentment and joy.
Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate answer to a world desperately in need of contentment and joy. He is the One and only Savior, which relieves me and you of that responsibility and gives us a far easier one – telling everyone we can the good news that redemption and renewal are possible, and even inevitable, because of the work that God has done and is doing.
John the Baptist had grown up in a privileged, priestly family. But John sought the simplicity of life in the wilderness, away from the hustle and grind of the city. I continue to be impressed with John’s character and way of life – not his diet of locusts and wild honey or his shaggy outward appearance, but his contentment.
John was content to live a life of separation from the ways of life in which people were trapped. He let go of his need to be impressive or productive and, instead, was content to take on a role that was secondary to his cousin, Jesus. He was content to simply be the Voice that prepared the people for the Messiah.
And we, who follow Jesus today, get to follow in John’s steps. Here’s how…
1. We get to define ourselves in relationship to Jesus, the Savior.
I’m a husband to my wife, a father to my kids, a coach to ministry leaders, and a servant of the church. But at the core of my identity, I’m also a friend and joint heir with Jesus. That’s who I am. That’s who John was, too.
2. We get to rest from making a name for ourselves.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with being famous, popular, or influential. But being popular in the eyes of the world will never fulfill us in the way we would hope. It will always leave us still searching.
3. We get to tell the greatest story of all time!
John was content to be an announcer because he knew he couldn’t possibly save a lost world himself, but he could point everyone to the One who was coming to fix all the broken stuff and offer new life and spiritual vitality to anyone who would follow him.
Today, we don’t have to impress God. He loves you just the way you are regardless of your accomplishments. We get to just naturally, relationally share the good news about Jesus with as many people as possible!
Through Christ, God is extending joy to the world and he graciously invites us to be his messengers of the joy-inducing, saving message of Jesus!
Cover photo by Josh Harrison on Unsplash.