John the Baptist has dominated the readings and theme of my first two sermons of the year.
Actually, rather: John’s unflinching testimony to Jesus has been the main theme: John is the messenger, but Jesus is the message; John is the witness, but Jesus is the word: John must decrease and Jesus must increase. That’s not a bad way for me to start the year.
At St Peter’s Church, Lake Mary, Florida I preached on Matthew 3:13-17 and was struck by the thought that Jesus’ Baptism is not only the start of his public ministry, but also his inauguration as priest – preparation for his “second baptism” of death on the cross. You can listen to this sermon here.
The second sermon was preached at St John the Divine in Houston, John 1:29-42. John invites his disciples to “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29, 36). Echoes of God’s provision of a lamb to spare Isaac (Gen 22)? Perhaps Isaiah 53:6-7? Or, maybe, the Passover lamb which substituted for the firstborn in every Israelite household thus sparing them from the angel of death? Whichever of these themes is more dominant in John’s thought, the Baptist invites us to “behold, consider, ponder and marvel at” the lamb…. more here