December 27 - Message Update

High School Hopes and Musicals – Matthew 3:1-3 & Isaiah 40:3 – Pastor Josh

Take Home Truth:  God’s plan of salvation transcends anything else in this world.

 

 

As much as there are many beautiful things, many good things in this world, there is something even better out there for you, there is Someone who has something to offer us that goes far above everything else.

 

As much as there are many beautiful things, many good things in this world, there is something even better out there for you, there is Someone who has something to offer us that goes far above everything else.

 

This is why we need God’s Word this morning… because every single one of us listening, whether you’re Christian or non-Christian, whether asking life’s biggest questions or feeling like you’ve already got life figured out with or without Jesus, please I ask you please just give this a chance and see what hope and purpose Jesus has to offer. He’s got so much more to offer than any one of us realize… This leads us to our first point…

 

1. God’s plan of salvation offers hope beyond our sin. (Matthew 3:1-2.) Whatever your past, whatever your struggles, whatever you might be placing your hope in in life, God goes out of His way to offer us redemption and salvation…  He even sends a prophet to let the world know.

 

One moment, we’re in Nazareth at the end of chapter 2 then the next we’re in chapter 3 here and John the Baptist steps on the scene. Well who is John the Baptist and why is he so important? And why is He called a Baptist?

 

Well for one, John’s not a Baptist like what we think of with the term Baptist like the church denomination today. John’s a Baptist in the sense that he simply baptizes people. The reason he’s important is because he’s the one who sets the stage for Jesus to begin his earthly ministry.

 

John’s message comes at a time where Israel has had her fill of being dominated by other nations and kingdoms. They wanted to regain the former glory of their past like with the monarchies of David and Solomon. There was a brief time between the Old and New Testament where they had semi-independence during the Maccabean revolt and Hasmonean rule but that was over a long time ago. Now they had Rome ruling over them. They wanted independence bad.

 

So John, actually a distant relative of Jesus, steps onto the scene and begins preaching his message. He didn’t know Jesus was the messiah yet in these verses so you can’t say it was just family doing a favor for family, but John was out living in the desert to preach this big prophetic message from God. Was this the political hope that Israel was looking for?

 

So John says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Was this really it? Was Israel finally going to get out from underneath the oppression of Roman rule? Were they going to enter into a new set of glory days? Well, no. While Israel was looking for a political hope, what they needed even more than their own king was their own Savior from sin. They needed a relationship with God because, even though they were the first ones to know God as a people, it didn’t mean that each one of them was actually saved. So John says, “repent!”

 

Well, what is repentance? As a kid growing up, I would terrorize my sister sometimes, she can attest to it, but when I would get caught by my parents they would make me apologize so I’d turn to her, say sorry, then eventually terrorize her some more while my parents weren’t looking.

 

Is this what John is telling us to do with God? No! God doesn’t want us to just say sorry then continue doing whatever we were doing before in our lives. God desires genuine transformation in our hearts to lean towards Him, to have our greatest affections for Him and turn away from whatever it was we were sinning in or loving more than God before.

 

So it’s here in the wilderness we see the core of John’s ministry, calling for repentance. This was the first word in his ministry, it was the first word in Jesus’ preaching and this was how the disciples called on people too when they went out in their ministry. Repentance always was and is a big deal.

 

Repentance isn’t the pretty thing to talk about in Christianity but it’s the necessary thing… It’s fundamental to the Christian message and makes it distinctive.

 

I don’t know about you but when some people think of forgiveness they think about feelings, like feeling sorry for your sin. “Lord I feel so sorry for sinning against you.” That’s not a bad thing, it’s good! Really! But the thing about repentance is it isn’t just about feeling sorry. It’s a call to make an actual change of direction in your life.

John is calling the world, is calling us to make actual changes of direction in our lives from the world and towards God because the kingdom of heaven is at hand. King Jesus is now here on earth and is ready to carry out His message. The Messiah was no longer just some far off prophecy of the Old Testament, but with John’s function and message connecting the Old Testament to the New, the Messiah is about to be here and now.

 

No mistake is too big. No sin is unforgivable. Wherever you are at in your relationship with God or whether or not you even know Him, Jesus has the greatest hope to offer because He, God, gives you Himself through His cross and resurrection from the dead for our sins. God’s given us the greatest hope of salvation through Jesus’ blood. Which leads us to our second point…

 

2. God’s plan of salvation offers hope only found in our Savior, Jesus Christ. (Mt. 3:3, Is. 40:3) While there are many things that give the impression of hope, true hope has come and is only found in Jesus.

 

Matthew’s words here come from a prophecy in Isaiah. “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Is. 40:3) What does it mean? Isaiah was written WAY before Matthew. HUNDREDS of years before. So God always had one plan in mind for the salvation of humanity and it’s been Jesus all along.

 

John would be the voice of the one crying in the wilderness and the one preparing the way of the Lord. The word “prepare” can be used to describe making something or to keep it ready. And to describe Jesus as Lord, Matthew is revealing Him as God.

 

Like a road that must be cleared for a coming king, John is calling us to clear the obstacles of our hearts that keep us from receive Him. He’s calling us to get ready, to prepare our hearts and lives for the coming Kingdom of Heaven. As Spurgeon once said, “Men’s hearts were like a wilderness, wherein there is no way; but as loyal subjects throw up roads for the approach of beloved princes, so were men to welcome the Lord, with their hearts made right and ready to receive him.”

 

So how should we respond? Step 1: Turn away from the things of this world and, Step 2: Turn towards Jesus.

Our hope was certain and fixed all along because the salvation plan of Jesus was certain and fixed all along.

 

There are many good and great things in this world. I found many in my friends from high school. And there are many not so great things that distract us and lead us to sin, to turn away from God. But we ought to place our greatest hope in none of those things but in God. His salvation plan offers us hope beyond our sin and His salvation plan offers us hope only found in our Savior, Jesus Christ. God’s plan of salvation offers us a hope that transcends anything else in this world.

 

Praise Songs: How Great Thou Art, Mighty to Save, Christ Our Hope in Life and Death, Living Hope, Doxology