Scripture: Luke 3:7-16, Luke 17:20-21
We have come to the last sermon of Advent in our series, The Kingdom. Over the last three weeks, we have discussed three different influences on Jesus’ understanding of God’s Kingdom. The first week we discussed David and the Kingdom of Israel. The second week we discussed Cyrus the Great and the Kingdom of Persia. Last week we discussed Antiochus IV and the Seleucid Kingdom. This week we are talking about the final kingdom, which is the one that Jesus came to establish on Earth.
For round numbers, let’s assume that Jesus’ ministry lasts from 28-30 A.D. That’s between two and three years. The question that we often neglect as Christians is: What was Jesus doing in the years leading up to his ministry? How was Jesus spending his time? Who was he with? Jesus was clearly doing something, we just don’t know what it was because there’s no record of it. There are, however, some clues in the New Testament that might lead us in the right direction.
Some scholars speculate that Jesus may have been part of John the Baptist’s movement prior to venturing out on his own. If this was the case, then John the Baptist is probably the one responsible for introducing the concept of the kingdom to Jesus. Evidence to support this point of view comes from the first scripture from Luke. These teachings from John sound very similar to the teachings Jesus will eventually preach about the kingdom. So I think it’s pretty clear that Jesus’ understanding of the kingdom starts with John the Baptist.
Therefore, if we take this theory that Jesus is a student under John, I think it is also conceivable that Jesus learned about other aspects of the kingdom from John the Baptist. The goal of our sermon on Sunday is to discuss what those aspects would have been and how Jesus ultimately puts his own twists on notion of God’s kingdom as found in our scripture reading from Luke.
I hope that you will be able to make it to this sermon on Sunday. It only happens once, at 10:00 am, so I hope to see you there. If not, I hope you will be at one of our Christmas Eve services at 4:00 pm (pageant), 8:00 pm, or 11:00 pm. Joy to the world and may you have a wonderful Christmas celebration with friends and family!