Sermon Transcript – Comfort for God’s People

Series A – Second Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 4, 2022 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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0:27The holy Gospel
0:29According to Saint Matthew the third
0:31chapter
0:33foreign
0:38preaching in the wilderness of Judea
0:41repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at
0:43hand for this is he who was spoken by
0:45the prophet Isaiah when he said the
0:48voice of one crying in the wilderness
0:50prepare the way of the Lord make his
0:52paths straight now John wore a garment
0:56of camel’s hair and a leather belt was
0:58around his waist and his food was
1:00locusts and wild honey then Jerusalem
1:03and all Judea and all the region about
1:05the Jordan were going out to him and
1:07they were baptized by him in the River
1:09Jordan confessing their sins but when he
1:13saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
1:15coming for baptism he said to them you
1:17brood of vipers who warned you to flee
1:20from the Wrath to come bear fruit in
1:22keeping with repentance do not presume
1:24to say to yourselves we have Abraham as
1:26our Father for I tell you God is able
1:28from these stones to raise up children
1:30for Abraham even now the ax is laid to
1:32the root of the trees every tree
1:34therefore that does not bear good fruit
1:36is cut down down and thrown into the
1:38fire I baptize you with water for
1:41repentance but he who was coming after
1:43me is mightier than I whose sandals I am
1:45not worthy to carry he will baptize you
1:48with the Holy Spirit and with fire his
1:50winnowing Fork is in his hand he will
1:53clear his threshing floor and gather his
1:55wheat into the barn but the chaff he
1:58will burn with unquenchable fire this is
2:01the gospel of the Lord in the name of
2:03Jesus
2:05all right Comfort Comfort ye my people
2:08that’s from Isaiah chapter 40 which
2:11happens to be the exact same text that
2:13our gospel text is cross-referencing
2:15when it says that John the Baptist is
2:18the one who is the voice of one crying
2:20in the wilderness prepare the way of the
2:22Lord make his paths straight in fact let
2:26me read out a portion of Isaiah 40
2:28because I think it’s fascinating here
2:30that section of scripture begins with
2:32these very famous words we all know them
2:34they come up every every single Advent
2:37Comfort Comfort my people says your God
2:40speak tenderly to Jerusalem cry to her
2:43that her Warfare has ended that her
2:45iniquity is pardoned that she has
2:46received from the Lord’s hand double for
2:48all of her sins a voice cries in the
2:51wilderness prepare the way of the Lord
2:53make straight in the desert a highway
2:55for our God every Valley shall be lifted
2:57up every mountain and Hill made low and
3:00not at the uneven ground shall become
3:02level and the rough places a plane and
3:05the glory of the Lord Lord shall be
3:07revealed and All Flesh will see it
3:09together for the mouth of the Lord has
3:11spoken which kind of begs the question
3:14how are we to understand John the
3:17Baptist fulfilling this prophecy where
3:19God calls him hundreds of years before
3:21he’s even conceived in the womb of his
3:23mother Elizabeth how did he fulfill the
3:26words of comforting the people of Israel
3:29it seems a little odd to comfort people
3:31by saying you brood of vipers who warned
3:35you to flee the Wrath to come I’m not
3:37feeling comforted when he talks like
3:39this right usually you’ll note that in
3:41our modern era we think of comforting
3:43like this oh you got a boo-boo oh let me
3:46kiss your little boo-boo and does that
3:48make you feel better honey right we
3:50think that that’s what comforting is
3:52well I remember years ago and
3:55unfortunately I do not remember the
3:57pastor who’s who pointed this out to me
3:59but this was not years ago really
4:01decades ago that in the ancient world
4:03comforting meant something different
4:05than the way we understand comforting
4:08today and he pointed to something a a
4:11historical artifact if you would that
4:15kind of makes the point you’ve all heard
4:17of William the Conqueror well we here in
4:20the United States we’re not all that
4:22well well versed in British history
4:24William the Conqueror important fellow
4:27right and William the Conqueror you
4:29you’ll note that the big battle that he
4:31won where he conquered is called the
4:33Battle of Hastings and there’s something
4:35called The Bayou tapestry and the Bayou
4:38tapestry depicts the Battle of Hastings
4:41with arrows and archers and Swordsmen
4:44and and guys on horses in Cavalry and
4:47there’s an interesting little thing in
4:49there and that is is that there is a
4:51depiction of William the conqueror’s
4:54step-brother who happens to be named
4:56Bishop Odo
4:59Odo well Bishop Odo is depicted in the
5:03bayou tapestry as wearing a helmet he’s
5:06wearing mail and he’s also wielding
5:09something called a baculum which is a
5:12battle bat a battle club right and
5:15what’s really fascinating is the Bayou
5:17tapestry depicts Bishop Auto
5:20behind the Cavalry beating them
5:24to go forward into a hail of arrows
5:28coming in from the other Army’s archers
5:30and the text in this particular portion
5:34of the bayute tapestry reads
5:36um here is Bishop Odo holding his Club
5:39comforting his boys
5:43comforting his boys
5:46can we talk about what comfort means in
5:49this context because here’s how the
5:51Battle of Hastings is going down you got
5:53the Cavalry going
5:55uh here come the arrows and Bishop Otto
5:58is behind them going get
6:05do you feel comforted
6:08but that’s
6:10an interesting word
6:12so here’s the idea then is that the word
6:15comfort in the ancient world doesn’t
6:19have the soft meaning that we have
6:22applied to it today the ancient world
6:24understood that comfort means to
6:27strengthen in fact no joke this is not a
6:31play on words the word Comfort has the
6:34word fort in it which is a reference to
6:37fortresses
6:38the idea of comforting is to strengthen
6:42people to strengthen them and sometimes
6:44you strengthen them with soft words
6:46sometimes you strengthen them by
6:48spitting a grasshopper leg in their face
6:50and telling them to repent
6:53right are you feeling comforted yet it’s
6:57it’s a fascinating thing so here in our
7:00text we have John the Baptist and man
7:03who let this guy out of his cage you’ll
7:06note that I still I say this every time
7:08this guy shows up I don’t know a single
7:10congregation on planet Earth that would
7:12call this guy to be their pastor
7:14and by today’s standard he commits the
7:17most egregious and unforgivable sin that
7:20a society looks upon and that is the sin
7:23of hurting people’s feelings
7:26of making them feel negative about
7:28themselves right I was recently I
7:31recently read the book
7:32uh counterfeit Kingdom by uh Doug given
7:35and Holly pivic it’s a it’s a story
7:37about the Nar and their practices and
7:41what was really interesting in the book
7:42Holly pivic actually made a research
7:45visit to Bethel church and was there in
7:49one of their after their Church classes
7:51that they were holding where they were
7:52teaching people how to be Prophets
7:55how does one teach somebody how to be a
7:57prophet when God is the one who gives
7:59the gift of Prophecy if it’s legit and
8:02the teacher of this class put a hard and
8:05fast rule for the class if they were
8:07going to be prophesying
8:09no negative prophecies and I have heard
8:14Nar church after Nar church say that the
8:18way you can tell that a word is from the
8:20Lord that you need to accept is it’ll
8:23uplift you it will not tear you down it
8:26will make you feel good rather than make
8:27you feel terrible I would note in next
8:30week’s gospel text Jesus says of John
8:32the Baptist he says what did you go out
8:34in the wilderness to see a a reed
8:37swaying in the wind no would you go out
8:39to see a prophet yes a prophet and more
8:44than a prophet a good way to think of
8:46John the Baptist is that he is the last
8:48of the Old Testament prophets he’s well
8:51he’s dressed like Elijah camel’s hair
8:53thick belt we won’t talk about his diet
8:56that just this is just not going to
8:57catch on but the point then is is that
9:00John the Baptist shows up and well when
9:04we hear his message repent the Kingdom
9:08of Heaven is at hand and those who are
9:10comfortable in their sin and their false
9:13Doctrine he gets right in their faces
9:15squares up with them and rather than
9:18throwing fists he throws words you brood
9:22of vipers now think about this for a
9:25second okay a good way to think about it
9:28is you’ll note that it’s female snakes
9:30that are the ones that lay the eggs
9:32right is is am I correct if I’m reading
9:36this correctly that here here John the
9:40Baptist is accusing people of being like
9:44their mother the devil did I just
9:46misgender Satan uh oh
9:49but you brood of vipers who warned you
9:52to flee from the Wrath to come and when
9:55we hear John the Baptist preached this
9:57way we oftentimes think well I’m glad
10:00he’s going after them you’re missing the
10:02point he’s going after you
10:05you right he is and you’ll note that to
10:08prepare the way of the Lord is to preach
10:11the message of repentance to preach both
10:13law and gospel and it’s not intended to
10:16make you feel good God’s law is not a
10:19soft pillow and you’ll note if you
10:21haven’t figured it out yet why are all
10:24of these Old Testament texts in the
10:26early part of Advent pointing to the
10:28second coming of Christ why are they
10:30always pointing to the new Earth when
10:32the wolf and the lamb will lay down
10:34together because Jesus his first Advent
10:37has already come if you want to prepare
10:39the way of the Lord we’re not preparing
10:41for his first Advent we’re going to
10:43celebrate it on Christmas day we’re
10:45preparing for his second Advent and you
10:48had better be ready
10:51you and I we are way too comfortable
10:54with our sin we make far too many
10:57excuses for ourselves and justify the
11:00worst of behaviors and you’ll know if
11:02you go into like Romans chapter 1 the
11:05list starts off with sexual sin and then
11:08it gets all the way worse and at the
11:10very bottom you have gossip which I
11:13think is greater than any sexual sin
11:15have you examined your life in light of
11:18the Ten Commandments are you just a
11:20little too lackadaisical when it comes
11:22to your prayers do you think stupidly
11:25and I apologize for using the word but
11:27it’s appropriate here stupidly that you
11:30are saved because your grandparents and
11:32your parents were lutherans you’ll note
11:34that John the Baptist goes after the
11:36Pharisees so don’t don’t even say to me
11:39that we are children of Abraham God can
11:41raise up children of Abraham from rocks
11:43over here and those rocks are smarter
11:45than you by the way Jesus will make that
11:47point later in the gospel but here in
11:50Lutheranism I’ve seen this thing that
11:53happens it’s called cultural Lutheranism
11:56right you go to a culturally Lutheran
11:59Church it’s like going to a Lutheran
12:01ghetto it is a complete Echo chamber and
12:06you nobody can get in and nobody dares
12:09leave because their parents or their
12:11grandparents would look at them wrong
12:13right and what happens is the reason why
12:16you’re saved is because you’re great
12:18your parents were saved your
12:20grandparents were saved their great
12:22grand they established this church and
12:24you’re woefully well woefully unaware of
12:28like anything going on outside of this
12:30tiny little bubble
12:32of Lutheranism right it’s a dangerous
12:35thing and in those kinds of churches
12:37when somebody comes in from the outside
12:40oh be careful be careful I I warn people
12:45if you ever attend a church like this a
12:47Lutheran Church if you sit in somebody’s
12:49Pew you are going to get in trouble
12:54I’m sorry why are you sitting there who
12:57are you that sister Martha’s pew
13:00right
13:03don’t think for a second that you’re
13:05saved just because your parents are
13:07Lutheran and your grandparents are
13:09Lutheran and you like lutefisk it
13:11doesn’t work this way what does he say
13:14God is able to well raise up lutherans
13:17from snowballs if he wants to and so the
13:20ax is laid to the root of the trees
13:22every tree therefore that does not bear
13:25good fruit it’s cut down and thrown into
13:27the fire repent
13:30are you guys starting to feel comforted
13:32now
13:34[Laughter]
13:36right right in fact the Apostle Paul
13:39kind of makes that whole point
13:42in row in Romans chapter 9 talking about
13:45his fellow Jews you know that in our day
13:48and age you know the dispensationalists
13:50and many evangelicals because of their
13:52wonky eschatology they somehow think
13:54that God is going to do something super
13:57duper special with Jews because well
14:00they’re the people of God have you not
14:03read the scriptures okay
14:06Paul says this in Romans 9. I’m speaking
14:09the truth in Christ I’m not lying my
14:11conscience Bears witness in the holy
14:13spirit that I have great sorrow and
14:15unceasing anguish in my heart for I wish
14:18that I myself were cursed and cut off
14:21from Christ for the sake of my brothers
14:23my Kinsmen according to the flesh think
14:26DNA here they are Israelites to them
14:29belong the adoption the glory the
14:31covenants the giving of the law the
14:33worship the promises to them the
14:35Patriarchs from their race according to
14:37the flesh is the Christ who is God over
14:39all blessed forever amen but it’s not as
14:42though the word of God had failed for
14:44not all who are descended from Israel
14:47belong to Israel
14:49and here we must pay attention to the
14:52scripture only Israel is saved and we
14:58who are Gentiles we are grafted into
15:02Israel I don’t know how the Sorting Hat
15:05worked out which clan you’re going to be
15:07in but the reality is we have all been
15:10grafted into Christ Christ is the vine
15:14we’re the branches he is the Olive Tree
15:17we have all been cultivated and brought
15:19into that tree and just because somebody
15:22is genetically Jewish doesn’t give them
15:26an inside track with God same with
15:29lutherans just because your parents are
15:31Grand parents are lutherans doesn’t give
15:33you an inside track with God Paul says
15:36in Galatians chapter 3 if you are
15:38Christ’s if you are a Christian then you
15:41are Abraham’s offspring and your heirs
15:44according to the promises you see as the
15:47text says when the fullness of time had
15:49come God said sent forth his son born of
15:52a woman born under the law in order to
15:55redeem those who were under the law so
15:57that we might receive adoption as sons
16:00and because you are Sons God has sent
16:03the spirit of a son into our hearts
16:05crying Abba Father so repentance
16:08recognizes that we are sinners we need
16:11to be saved we need to be redeemed and
16:14the good news is that John the Baptist
16:16is preparing the way for the first
16:18Advent of Christ and he shows up and by
16:21his death on the cross he redeems us so
16:25that we all regardless of whether we are
16:27German or Norwegian or Swede or wherever
16:29we come from that we might all receive
16:32adoption as sons and we then are all
16:35Israel and then by the power of the Holy
16:39Spirit having been forgiven our sins
16:41washed away us being taken from slavery
16:44to sin death and the devil and given the
16:46freedom that comes from being a child of
16:48God we then bear fruit keeping with
16:51repentance and that good fruit shows up
16:53in our beliefs and what we believe it
16:55shows up in our works and how we love
16:58and care for each other and you’ll note
17:00then that this time of the year during
17:02these penitential Seasons it’s a good
17:05time to well consider messages like John
17:08the Baptist and embrace the
17:10strengthening that he has given to us so
17:13that we can say you know what
17:15my good works are still not good enough
17:20now not good enough they’ll never be
17:22good enough to save you but the reality
17:25is is that we all have room for
17:27improvement on loving each other being
17:30kind to each other building each other
17:32up and build and meeting each other’s
17:35needs our prayers are not as strong as
17:37they ought to be our worship is not as
17:41zealous as it needs to be we all fall
17:44short in so many ways we do not nearly
17:48consider God’s word as much as we ought
17:51to consider it and meditate on it and
17:53pray on it and this is a time to
17:55recognize we need a little comforting
17:59and this is the comforting of John the
18:02Baptist with a baculum get into the
18:07back right take that sin and knock it
18:10off get rid of it cast it aside and run
18:13the race that Christ has given you to
18:15run are you feeling comforted now
18:19you should be
18:21and that’s kind of the point
18:23so when we hear John the Baptist
18:26preached like this it’s easy for us to
18:28feel offended but at the same time we
18:31must recognize he’s absolutely right and
18:35he notes that in preparing the way of
18:37the Lord he was the one who was
18:38baptizing with water for repentance but
18:41now that Christ has come we have all
18:44been baptized into Christ’s death and
18:46into his resurrection the very things
18:48that set us free from slavery to sin
18:50death and the devil and Christ has given
18:54us his holy spirit when we were baptized
18:56and it is true even like to John the
18:58Baptist we are not worthy to untie
19:00Christ’s sandals but yet he is the one
19:03who came to Earth and humbled himself so
19:06much that not only did he well humble
19:09himself but forget untying sandals he
19:12actually washed feet
19:14what a humble and merciful kind and
19:18loving savior we have and so brothers
19:21and sisters it is true
19:23Christ is coming he will come and he
19:25will shatter the Nations and with his
19:28winnowing Fork he will clear his
19:30threshing floor and it is true he will
19:33gather his wheat into his barn and the
19:35chaff he will burn up with unquenchable
19:37fire let us then by the power of the
19:40Holy Spirit cast aside the chaff and
19:43recognize that Christ is the one who by
19:45Grace has made us his wheat and
19:48therefore it is not befitting of wheat
19:50to behave in Chaffee ways right
19:56I’m glad you’re here Bruce
19:58[Applause]
20:02with all of that being said Comfort
20:05Comfort my people
20:07speak tenderly to Jerusalem and tell her
20:09that her Warfare has ended her iniquity
20:11is pardoned and she is received from the
20:13Lord’s hand double for all of her sins
20:15and here Christ is not promising that we
20:19would somehow receive double penalty for
20:21our sins instead he has given us double
20:23Grace his grace is sufficient his
20:27sacrifice is complete there is nothing
20:29that you can add to it and it is super
20:32abundant in forgiving you of all of your
20:34sins cast aside the works of darkness
20:36repent the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand
20:39in fact Jesus is here today because he’s
20:42here where two or more are gathered and
20:44we have that tangibly today when we
20:46Feast upon the very body and blood of
20:48Christ given and shed for the
20:49Forgiveness of our sins
20:51so it is true that we were all born
20:54brood of vipers we were all of our
20:57mother the devil absolutely true and
21:00Christ is the one who has set us free
21:01and brought us into the true patriarchy
21:04of the kingdom of Christ so that we can
21:06be forgiven and as it says in our Old
21:09Testament text today that when Christ
21:13returns that the thing that we have to
21:15look forward to is a world that is
21:18absolutely glorious and it is a place
21:20that Christ promises is a place of rest
21:23but today is not the day of what rest we
21:26are still at War and we are all soldiers
21:28in that war so let me grab John the
21:31Baptist baculum and beat you guys to get
21:34back into the battle in the name of
21:36Jesus Amen
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