Scripture: Matthew 3:1-12; Isaiah 11:1-10
During Advent we are doing a sermon series called The Chosen One. This series is based on the lectionary readings, which setup Jesus’ birth in the form of an epic. Each week the action builds, drawing us closer to the fulfillment of the prophecy that is foretold in the first week. This week we are focused on the messenger of the prophecy, John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was a leader who lived at the same time as Jesus. John had amassed a large following of people who were drawn to his teachings. Certain scholars have speculated that Jesus may have been one of John’s disciples before venturing out on his own. John received his name as a baptizer because he would ritually cleanse his disciples by immersing them in water.
The purpose of John’s ritual cleansing was to prepare his followers for the coming of God’s kingdom, which is why John says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” He’s trying to prepare everyone for the coming of Jesus. In this way, John the Baptist is regarded as a prophet, a person who delivers messages on behalf of God. This means that a prophet will often say things that people do not want to hear. Prophets speak truth to power.
John speaks truth to power when he tells us that Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff. Chaff is the dry, scaly casings that protect the seeds of wheat while it’s growing. The chaff has no nutritional value. Once the wheat has reached full maturity, the chaff is discarded so that you can utilize the grain. In other words, when Jesus creates God’s kingdom, he’s going to judge whether your presence in the kingdom is beneficial or harmful.
This Sunday we will discuss how Jesus expects us to live so that our lives are considered wheat and not chaff. I hope you can be there this Sunday because it’s going to be a great day. Stay warm and have a joyful weekend! We’re only three weeks away from Christmas!