Sunday, October 17, 2010
The Messenger & The Message preached @ Tinney Chapel
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All photos by Angela Wylie.
Laity Sunday @ Tinney Chapel
It was a day for the laity, in this case, Certified Lay Speaker Joe Dan Boyd and his Martin bass ukulele, a four-stringed, guitar-sized instrument built in 1931 and tuned a tad lower than a baritone ukulele.
Joe Dan used this unique instrument to accompany his rendition of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," a song originally inspired by the Old Testament Scripture, 2 Kings 2:11, the account of Elijah, who never died, but was transported to Heaven in a whirlwind by a chariot of fire.
This was also a very special day at Tinney Chapel for three people: David Stanton, about to become a Lay Speaker; Glenn Goggans, about to embark on the Walk To Emmaus; and, Sunshine (Sunny) Prior, Joe Dan's granddaughter who is about to become a Fulbright Fellow, during which she will spend a year studying abroad. Joe Dan asked all three to approach the pulpit and, while they faced him, the entire congregation approached to lay hands on all three in a combined, powerful blessing for their physical and spiritual safety during these events.
The Tinney Chapel choir led the congregation in a call to worship, highlighted by the song, We Have Come Into His House.
Congregational songs on this day included Heaven Came Down And Glory Filled My Soul, the Tinney Chapel Medley (He's The Savior Of My Soul, His Name Is Wonderful, There's Something About That Name) and Send The Light.
Scripture was read by Glenn Goggans (Malachi 3:1, 4:5) and by Sunshine Prior (Luke 1:5-17, 7:28), all intended to set the stage for sermons by Georgia Goggans (for the children) and Joe Dan Boyd (for the adults) about the relationship of Jesus The Christ with John The Baptizer. The text of Joe Dan's sermon follows:
The Messenger And The Message (sermon text)
THROUGHOUT the Old Testament, there runs a line of PROPHECIES about a....
...COMING DELIVERER-SAVIOR, the MESSIAH......and the institution of a ... (what?)...
A NEW COVENANT!
Remember, however, WHEN the PHOPHETS did their thing:
For ISAIAH, it was about 700 YEARS BEFORE CHRIST.
For JEREMIAH, it was about 600 YEARS BEFORE CHRIST.
For EZEKIEL, it was a LITTLE LESS than 600 years.
For MALACHI, it was AT LEAST 400 YEARS BEFORE CHRIST.
SO, with that in mind, ....
REWIND with me to the FINAL BOOK in the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament--MALACHI, whose PROPHECIES PRE-DATE the birth of CHRIST by AT LEAST 400 YEARS:
Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5-6(b) (if you care to follow):
“See, I will send my MESSENGER, who will PREPARE THE WAY before me.
“Then suddenly THE LORD you are seeking will come to His temple;...
“THE MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT, whom you desire, WILL COME, says the LORD ALMIGHTY....”
“See, I will send you the PROPHET ELIJAH before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.”
It’s IMPORTANT to remember that, AFTER MALACHI......for about 400 YEARS, the PROPHETS were...SILENT.
That PROPHETIC SILENCE would not END until....The public MINISTRY of a man considered by some scholars to be, APART FROM JESUS HIMSELF, ...the most THEOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT person in the GOSPELS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
That would be...(who?)...JOHN THE BAPTIST.
John The Baptizer...John The Immerser...
Those who hold this elevated view of John see him as a TRANSITIONAL FIGURE who LINKS the Old and New Testaments.
JOHN THE BAPTIST becomes the FIRST FENCE-STRADDLER in the BIBLE,
with ONE SANDEL squarely grounded in EACH of the TESTAMENTS---the OLD and the NEW....
If SALVATION history had been written by modern SPORTS COMMENTATORS, John the Baptizer might have been the QUINTESSENTIAL ...PLAYER TO BE NAMED LATER...
...MUCH LATER, as it was actually RECORDED by....LUKE:
Luke 1:15-17, if you are following.
“For he will be GREAT in the SIGHT of the LORD. He is never to take WINE or other FERMENTED DRINK, and he will be FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT even from BIRTH.
“Many of the people of Israel will he BRING BACK to the LORD their GOD.
“And he will go on before the LORD, in the SPIRIT AND POWER OF....ELIJAH, to turn the hearts of the ...DISOBEDIENT to the WISDOM of the RIGHTEOUS
--TO MAKE READY a PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD.”
Notice, too, the DETAILS of John the Baptizer’s BIRTH, which have come down to us ONLY through LUKE’S GOSPEL:
A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT by none other than the ANGEL GABRIEL.
DIVINE INTERVENTION like that granted to ABRAHAM, whose previously BARREN and AGED wife Sarah eventually gave BIRTH to Isaac--the Bible’s first SON OF THE PROMISE.
Luke does NOT say that John the Baptist WAS Elijah REINCARNATED...as some EXPECTED at the time, based on what MALACHI had said.
That SCENARIO might have gained some CREDIBILITY based on John the Baptizer’s LIFESTYLE, WARDROBE & DIET.
He lived a SPARTAN LIFE, dressed in CAMEL HAIR HOMESPUN with a LEATHER BELT AROUND HIS WAIST—exactly the COSTUME you’d EXPECT for a PROPHET based on 2 Kings 1:8
& Zechariah 13:4).
He lived in the Judean WILDERNESS where HE BELIEVED THE VOICE CRIES OUT, and followers CAME TO HIM...in the WILDERNESS.
John the Baptizer did NOT make HOUSE CALLS.
He PREACHED a STERN MESSAGE OF RADICAL REPENTANCE:
That just being a CHILD OF ABRAHAM—that is, being BORN a JEW--was NOT ENOUGH to
That God was now CREATING A NEW PEOPLE via...BAPTISM...IN THE WATERS OF THE JORDAN RIVER—across which God had earlier led the Children of Israel from Egypt.
John the Baptizer’s was NOT a NEW RELIGION, but a NEW RITE for the ATONEMENT OF SIN--
--probably meant as an END RUN around GROWING CORRUPTION IN TEMPLE RITES
AND THE PRIESTHOOD.
His rite of BAPTISM was WITHOUT PRECEDENT in its MEANING.
It was the FIRST Jewish instance of REBIRTH as METAPHOR for REDEMPTION.
It also, unlike the rite of CIRCUMCISION, made SALVATION available to WOMEN.
Like Jesus, the One he awaited, John the Baptizer, identified himself with the LOWLY.
He was UNLIKE anything the Jews had EVER seen, although practically EVERYTHING about him had PARALLELS in ISAIAH (32:15; 35:1-19; 40:3; 41:18-19; 43:19-20; 11:2-5; 42:1-4; 61:1; 29:22; 41:8; 51:2; 63:16; 59:5; 1:4).
He DINED on LOCUSTS & WILD HONEY. (Matthew 3:4 & Mark 1:6).
But, LUKE says ONLY that John the Baptizer came “in the SPIRIT and POWER of Elijah.”
Later, John the Baptizer would FLATLY DENY that he was Elijah reincarnated (John 1:21,25).
And, remember, what is the most unforgettable thing we remember about ELIJAH?
That he did NOT die! See 2 Kings 2:11: And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that behold, there appeared a CHARIOT OF FIRE, and HORSES OF FIRE, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah WENT UP BY A WHIRLWIND INTO HEAVEN.
JESUS would LATER say that Elijah MUST come FIRST,
...and that, INDEED, Elijah HAD come in the person of... John the Baptist (Matthew 17:11-13 & Mark 9:12-13)
TRANSLATION: John the Baptist DID fulfill Malachi’s PROPHECY, but perhaps in a SPIRITUAL rather than a literal SENSE.
Thus, JESUS points to the CENTRAL ROLE played by John the Baptizer in God’s plan of SALVATION.
Think of John the Baptizer as the
GREATEST BORN AMONG WOMEN because he had the PRIVILEGE of POINTING TO--AND BAPTIZING—THE LAMB OF GOD (John 1:29-34).
Not only that, John the Baptizer could claim JESUS as COUSIN.
Yet, as the LAST GREAT PROPHET of the PRE-CHRISTIAN ERA, he was the LEAST in the kingdom of God (Matthew 11:11 & Luke 7:28).
John the Baptizer was QUITE COOL about his SUBORDINATE ROLE TO CHRIST,
and kept INSISTING ALL ALONG that he was just a WITNESS TO THE LIGHT (John 1:19-23 & John 1:6-9 & John 3:27-30).
John the Baptizer made NO BONES about the fact that JESUS was GREATER than he....
That JESUS had a MORE POWERFUL MINISTRY & a more powerful BAPTISM (Luke 3:16).
John the Baptizer did NOT really WANT to baptize JESUS...
...rather, he wanted JESUS to baptize HIM (Matthew 3:13-14), but relented when encouraged by JESUS...
John the Baptist was COOL about his OWN disciples LEAVING... to follow JESUS (John 1:35-39)
And, while John the Baptizer DID all these things, he was still only HUMAN,
...and his own personal VISION of the MESSIAH did not fully JIBE with what he saw in the EVOLUTION of JESUS’ MINISTRY.
Of course, this was also true of most of Israel, including some of JESUS’S 12 DISCIPLES.
Even PETER might NOT have fully UNDERSTOOD JESUS’S MINISTRY until after the RESURRECTION!
So, it is perhaps NOT so surprising that John the Baptist eventually
QUESTIONED if JESUS was REALLY the CHRIST
It’s POSSIBLE that JESUS intended to REBUKE John the Baptizer, when He said:
“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Luke 7:23 & Matthew 11:6)
But their RELATIONSHIP remains a PIVOTAL one in the New Testament.
Some scholars suggest the SUFFERING and DEATH of John the Baptist may FORESHADOW the
PAIN and DEATH of JESUS on the CROSS.
Indeed, when HEROD, after having had John the Baptizer BEHEADED,
learns of JESUS’ ministry, ...his FIRST THOUGHT IS THAT JOHN THE BAPTIZER HAS
COME BACK TO LIFE (Luke 9:7-9)
What we CAN say, with CERTAINTY, is that John the Baptizer STANDS TALL as the Gospel story starts to unfold,
His STYLE demands that we LISTEN with an OPEN MIND, FREE OF ALL THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY
TAKEN FOR GRANTED,
Allowing us to HEAR & ACCEPT a NEW WORD.
A NEW COVENANT.
Some scholars suggest that John the Baptist knew of and MIGHT have been associated with the QUMRAN COMMUNITY,
which produced the DEAD SEA SCROLLS. They contend that the LOCATION of his ministry,
the CONTENT of his PREACHING (REPENTANCE),
interest in WATER PURIFICATION, and his AUSTERE lifestyle indicate some similarity to the ESSENES AT QUMRAN.
Some scholars also suggest that, PRIOR to his OWN ministry, JESUS MAY have been AMONG the FOLLOWERS OF JOHN THE BAPTIZER.
In fact, just this past Wednesday, during the video portion of our Lesson 7 in the Second Generation Disciple study of Jesus In The Gospels, we heard author and scholar Bruce Chilton refer to John The Baptizer as Jesus' Rabbi!
But, all such SPECULATION is only what OTHERS THINK.
I’m not certain what YOU think about John the BAPTIZER, and
But, I think it was a relatively simple matter: He was both a MESSENGER for his COUSIN, Jesus, and paved the way, as Georgia said in her sermon for kids, much as does a Drum Major in a marching band!
The One who carried the LANTERN, the LAMP, the LIGHT, also known as the LIGHT OF THE WORLD,
A title that Jesus LATER gave to—of all people—US, THEE AND ME!
He called us the SALT OF THE EARTH and...Imagine that! The LIGHT OF THE WORLD, indicating that HE had something SPECIAL in mind for US—Thee and Me!
I think he wanted us to follow the example of JOHN THE BAPTIZER—and PAVE THE WAY for someone GREATER than any of us: JESUS THE CHRIST!
I THINK that the example set by JOHN THE BAPTIZER is quite clear:
We are to acknowledge, first and foremost, that it’s NOT about US:
It’s all about the one whose MESSAGE we proclaim by what we SAY, what we DO and what we THINK—The one whose SHOELACES we are not fit to TIE, Yet He LOVES us so much that He SHED HIS BLOOD ON THE CROSS FOR OUR ETERNAL SALVATION!
But, there’s one DIFFERENCE in how we are supposed to carry out our MISSION.
Instead of wondering, instead of questioning if JESUS is THE ONE that ISRAEL was expecting...THE ONE who so LOVED THE WORLD that He WILLINGLY became, as the Gospel Writer, called Him, THE LAMB OF GOD, who TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.
And, now and then, as we WALK IN HIS LIGHT, CASTING OUR OWN LIGHT into the DARKNESS of doubt, fear and the TEMPTATIONS OF SATAN, let us not FORGET now and then, also to stop, meditate, and THANK that odd, hairy-clothed, locust-and-wild honey-eating guy with the LOUD VOICE, the UNCOMPROMISING ATTITUDE and the SHEER STAMINA always to STICK TO HIS GUNS ABOUT what was right and what was not; about WHO was the MESSIAH during a time when MESSIANIC PRETENDERS abounded...
Let us strive to live our own LIVES so that, when we stand at the JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST, perhaps WE, too, might hear Jesus SAY about us, something like what he said about that strange cousin of his: That NO ONE BORN OF WOMAN was greater in THIS LIFE THAN WAS JOHN THE BAPTIST, but that the ONE WHO IS LEAST in the KINGDOM OF GOD is GREATER THAN HE, which I take to mean, among other things:
There will be NO DISTINCTION among us in that KINGDOM!