Advent 4—Rorate Coeli (Jn 1, 19–29)

Art by Full of Eyes

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

They said to John, “Who are you? So that we may give an answer to those who sent us, what do you say about yourself?”

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: People have to answer for their actions.))

John’s got to answer for what he’s done. John’s got to answer for what he’s doing. They had many questions for John: “Why are you baptizing?” “Are you the Prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18?” “Are you Elijah come back from heaven?” “Are you the promised Christ?” “Give us an answer so that we’ve got something to tell the people who sent us.”

John confesses and doesn’t deny. “I am not the Christ.” He knew his actions needed explanation. Actions do speak louder than words, but sometimes you’ve got to answer for what you’re doing. Not just explaining what you’re doing, but there’s justice and judgement for our words and actions. John reaped that in spades: heard about that last week. Prison. Death.

Actions that line up with God’s Word of Law, His Commandments, sometimes require explanation, as it was with John. But there is justice for actions that don’t. The Pharisees who were questioning John give us a hint of that: “Why are you doing these things if you’re not the Christ or the Prophet or Elijah?” Sins, misdeeds, wrongs don’t require an explanation. They require retribution, payment, penalty. Those sorts of actions need to be answered for.

We know all about that in our daily lives. There’s people who need to answer for what they’ve done to us, how they’ve treated us, what they’ve said to us. They need to answer for something they said or did that I didn’t like, and until they answer for it in the way I’m looking for, the grudge will continue, the malice, the anger, the unforgiveness.

((4. Ugh!: How are you going to answer for yours?))

Yes, actions have consequences. And we shouldn’t focus on “their” actions, someone else’s actions against us. We’re good at that. Trying to dodge what’s coming. “They’ve done XYZ thing, and I know that I’ve played a part, but it’s them that’s the problem.” We can come up with concrete sins against us, and we confess some wrongdoing, but not really. It’s why our own part in the matter is there in name only. “No one’s perfect, even me, but it’s not like I really did anything. No, their sin is the problem.”

Not to say you can’t be sinned against. You can. You can be the victim of sin. How quickly our flesh turns that into an opportunity to pay that sin forward with unforgiveness and hatred. Besides, God’s Law doesn’t say, “They shall not.” No, God’s Law, in fact, every single Commandment begins the same way: “You.” “You shall,” “you shall not.” Not “they.” “You.” The Lord silences all our “but they did this or that.” Silences with “You.” Can’t dodge that one. No one can.

On top of that, Jesus warns, “With what measure you use, it shall be measured back to you.” Want the double standard? Want someone to answer for what they’ve done, while you blush and dodge and ignore what you’ve done? “Come to terms quickly with your accuser, lest he hand you over to the judge, the judge to the jailer, and the jailer put you in prison. You won’t get out until you’ve paid it all back,” answered for every single penny. You.

How will you answer for what you’ve done? The Lord speaks to you. How will you answer for how you have treated those in your life? How will you answer for what you’ve done? And no amount of trying to dodge by pointing to others will do and how their sins are bigger, more, and many compared to yours.

((3. Aha!: John points us to the right Answer.))

Thankfully, Prophet John points us in the right direction. He doesn’t point to himself. Never to himself. “He confessed and didn’t deny, and he confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’” John’s just like you and me. He wasn’t perfect. Even in his doubt from last week, he points in the right direction. Lord uses imperfect prophets and preachers.

John doesn’t just point us in the right direction. No, far more than that. He points to the Answer. The only Answer that matters. The Answer that matters for him. The only Answer that matters for you. The only Answer that matters for the entire world. That Answer is a person. The Answer is Jesus. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

((2. Whee!: THE WORLD’S SIN IS ANSWERED FOR BY JESUS, GOD’S LAMB.))

That’s John’s Answer! Jesus. But not Jesus as some example, some holy person to emulate. Though, in some sense, Jesus is that. The 10 Commandments perfectly describe who Jesus is and what He does. Jesus is the Answer because Jesus answers for sin. Each sin. Every sin. All sins. Yours. Mine. Everybody’s. THE WORLD’S SIN IS ANSWERED FOR BY JESUS, GOD’S LAMB.

Jesus answers for every “you shall” and “you shall not.” In whatever way the Lord says, “You shall,” and you don’t—Jesus answers for that. In whatever way the Lord says, “You shall not,” and you do—Jesus answers for that, too. He answers for it not by doing it in your place. Jesus was without sins, “no spot or blemish”—perfect () Lamb. But Jesus also answered for, bore the eternal punishment that we deserve because of our sins. Jesus bears the curse and penalty of our sin, and His blood answers for all the world’s sins. THE WORLD’S SIN IS ANSWERED FOR BY JESUS, GOD’S LAMB.

But it’s not just the sins committed. Jesus also takes away their source. Jesus deals with the world’s sinfulness. He’s Adam 2.0. Sent to restore, fix, heal, save, what Adam 1.0 broke in the Garden of Eden. Jesus without spot or blemish. He is also like one of us. Human being. 100%. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” THE WORLD’S SIN IS ANSWERED FOR BY JESUS, GOD’S LAMB.

If Jesus does, nothing else does! Jesus does it. So nothing else answers for sin. Not before God anyway. No other work, no confession, no amount of restitution works with God. Not being sorry enough. Not confessing enough. Not making up for it enough. Not getting better enough. Not a single thing does it. Only Jesus. He’s the Lamb of God. THE WORLD’S SIN IS ANSWERED FOR BY JESUS, GOD’S LAMB.

((1. Yeah!: Jesus answers for the sins of our day, too.))

Jesus didn’t just answer for sins back then. He answers for the sins of our day, too. He answers for your sins. Each sin. Every sin. Big sin. Little sin. There’s not any one of your sins that isn’t answered for by Jesus. Why are we afraid of our sins? Why hide them? “When we confess, then God is faithful to forgive.” He’s faithful to do that because THE WORLD’S SIN IS ANSWERED FOR BY JESUS, GOD’S LAMB.

Jesus answers for your neighbor’s sins to. He shed His blood for the sins that they did against you. Those where nailed to Calvary’s cross. Each blow that Jesus suffered, each wrong that Jesus endured paid for that sin. In fact, a single drop of His blood is enough for all the world’s sins, so surely it’s enough for all your sins, and so it’s enough for your neighbor’s sin, too.

“But you don’t know what they’ve done. They need to pay for what they’ve done. Answer for it. They can’t get off Scot-free.” But does the Lord even remember what they’ve done? “I will remember their sins no more.” Didn’t Jesus die for that sin? You get off Scot-free when it comes to the Lord. Well, not really free. Free for you. “Blood of Jesus” free. “Dead Jesus” free. The same way God’s grudge with you was settled and answered for at Calvary, so also everyone, everyone in your daily life. In Jesus, the Lord remembers your sin no more

THE WORLD’S SIN IS ANSWERED FOR BY JESUS, GOD’S LAMB. Answered for at the Supper! There the delivery of redemption price. There the answer for all your sins and the sins of everyone else who communes with you. “The cup that we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ?” “My Blood for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Delivery point. John’s all about: last week and today. Pointing to Jesus.

You, too! You delivery point. Yes, John points us today. But in the following verses John pointed Andrew there, too, and Andrew in turn pointed Peter to Jesus. “How will they answer for what they’ve done to me, pastor?” Jesus answered for what they’ve done. Calvary much. God baptized you, gives you His Word in Sermons, devotions, Bible readings, gives you the Son’s body and blood, all for the forgiveness of sins. And you’re right where you are—all part of God’s plan—to deliver to that person the Answer for their sins. Jesus. The answer for you, for them, for all. Because, after all, THE WORLD’S SIN IS ANSWERED FOR BY JESUS, GOD’S LAMB.

INI + AMEN.

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