December 15, 2002
Third Sunday of Advent

John 1:6-8, 19-28

There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.


When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn't evade the question. He told the plain truth: "I am not the Messiah."

They pressed him, "Who, then? Elijah?"

"I am not."

"The Prophet?"


Exasperated, they said, "Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something - anything! - about yourself."

"I'm thunder in the desert: 'Make the road straight for God!' I'm doing what the prophet Isaiah preached."

Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party Now they had a question of their own: "If you're neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?"

John answered, "I only baptize using water. A person you don't recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I'm not even worthy to hold his coat for him."

These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time.

[The Message]


1. So who are you, if you are not a clone of someone else?

2. Is what you are doing of sufficient challenge to the institution religious that they finally get up off their duff to come past their boundary (Jordan) to find out what is going on?

This is not to say that everything that exercises said institution is valuable, growth-producing work. It is to say that clarifying work will raise hackles.

To ask John about who he thinks he is, is to project assumptions about who the questioners are. Are they thinking that they are the Guardians? Are they having an identity crisis and can only think about who they are in opposition to someone else?

3. Let me tell you about my baptizer identity. I am a waterer. Another has planted. Another will harvest. I am a waterer.

Homepage | Sermon Prep