Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Again our text seems strange for the Advent season, when we anticipate the joy of celebrating the birth of the Infant Jesus. This account occurred 30 years after Christmas, when Jesus and John the Baptist were men. John, the cousin of Jesus, was born first, also began his public ministry first.
We read how John in the womb of his mother, Elisabet, jumped when the Virgin Mary approached with Jesus in her womb. Then, when Jesus came to John to be baptized in the Jordan River, John identified him as the Messiah, the Savior promised to the prophets and patriarchs.
But, this story is even later, when John was in prison and Jesus was preaching in Galilee. In his ministry John bothered the Pharisees because he called everyone to repentance. The Jews practiced rites of cleansing to purify from current sins, but the Pharisees thought that they had fulfilled all the law of Moses and more, and therefore did not need a baptism of repentance. John also bothered Herod, the tetrarch, because Herod committed adultery with his brother's wife. That is why John was imprisoned and very soon Herod's stepdaughter and his mother would ask for Juan's head.
On the other hand, after his baptism by John, Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert, called his first disciples and began his ministry. "And when John heard the acts of Christ in prison, he sent two of his disciples, saying, Are you the One who was to come, or will we wait for another?"
Even in jail, John had disciples. Many of John's disciples at that time followed Jesus and John wanted everyone to follow him, because his ministry was over. Perhaps, also, John in the darkness of his cell, wanted reaffirmation that the plan of salvation would continue in the work of Jesus. So, the question for John's two disciples, are you the One who was to come, or will we wait for another?
John dedicated his life to preparing the way of the Messiah and perhaps he wanted to know if it was worth it. Would Jesus fulfill the prophecies of John and the other prophets? “And Jesus answering said to them, Go, and tell John the things that you hear and see. The blind see and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are resurrected and the gospel is preached to the poor. "
Jesus gave the disciples of John evidence of the fulfillment of messianic prophecy. Jesus gives solid evidence as well, in the testimony of the Scriptures and in the discoveries of archaeologists. Now archaeologists have discovered the wall of Nehemiah that was built when the Jews returned to captivity in Babylon. This wall is something solid. So also are the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, those who prophesied the first coming of Christ. This prophecy was fulfilled during the life of John. But John died before the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection. Jesus began on his way to the cross when He was baptized by John, but John did not see this fulfillment.
Because he saw the first coming of Messiah, John was the greatest of the Old Covenant prophets, the covenant which God made with Moses and the people of Israel before Mount Sinai. That is why Jesus said to them: “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this one is from whom it is written: Behold, I send my messenger in front of your face, who will prepare your way before you. Truly, I say to you, among those born of a woman, no one greater than John the Baptist ever stood up; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. "
"He who is least in the kingdom of heaven" means any believer in the new covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ. John did not baptize with the Holy Spirit, but Jesus Christ did. The same Holy Spirit who descended upon Jesus at his baptism was poured out on the church on the day of Pentecost. Today Sandro Dionel Pérez and Juan Diego Rodriguez will receive new life in Christ through baptism. I am not John the Baptist, but I baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit with the same authority as the apostles.
In addition, according to the old covenant, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place once a year to sacrifice the blood of animals for the sins of the people. But Christ sacrificed Himself once forever and now every Christian can enter the Most Holy Place, that is, the presence of God, at any time by the blood of Christ. Because of His baptism, every Christian has more power and authority than the high priest in the Temple of Jerusalem. The priests are not only the descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses, but all consecrated in the baptism of Jesus are heirs of the priests, prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament.
In addition, according to the old covenant, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies once a year to sacrifice the blood of animals for the sins of the people. But Christ sacrificed himself once forever and now every Christian can enter the Holy of Holies, that is, the presence of God, at any time by the blood of Christ. Because of his baptism, every Christian has more power and authority than the high priest in the Temple of Jerusalem. Priests are not only the descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses, but all consecrated in the baptism of Jesus are heirs of the priests, prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament.
The miracle of baptism that will occur today is greater than thunder and lightning on Mount Sinai, larger than the division of the waters of the Red Sea. In baptism we have the promise of eternal life and in that the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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