Sermon Notes

Matthew 11:2-11 (Sermon Scraps)

by jpserrano on December 10, 2013 · 0 comments

Advent 3 (Year A)
Matthew 11:2-11

Context: John the Baptist is in prison and hears about Jesus.  Jesus is on his way to preach to the cities.

Location: Jesus is on his way to preach to the cities (11:1)

Characters: John The Baptist, John’s Disciples, Jesus, The Crowds


11:2-  John was put in prison by Herod Antipas.  It’s not surprising that John would have gotten wind of Jesus since they were in the same “business.”   John, as the preparer, of God’s way has been looking for signs of a coming Messiah.  I wonder if he has asked this question before, and what kind of response he received?

11:3- John sends one of his disciples with a direct question for Jesus, but doesn’t receive a yes or no answer.  “One to come” is language that John used earlier in 3:11-the one who would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire.  John has a message to prepare for the one to come and needs to know if it is Jesus.

11:4- Jesus doesn’t give a direct answer to the question, but rather uses the messengers own experience of Jesus (hears and sees) as an answer.

11:5- These are the Messianic actions of Jesus summarized in one verse.  Jesus action fulfill Isaiah 35:5-6 and 61:1. The later he directly quotes in the Synagogue.  Jesus as the messiah is not just one of words, but of action.

11:6- The message of Jesus is offensive, because it is not fair.  The world runs on a “people get what they deserve” mentality, but this is not the way of Jesus nor the Christian.  Those who believe in retribution should be offended by God’s grace.

11:7-This verse begins Jesus’ praise for John.

11:8,9,- Jesus calls in to question people’s motives for going out to see John.  

11:10- Here is a clear statement that eschatological hopes of the Hebrew Bible are coming to fruition.  John is the prophet spoken of in Micah and Isaiah.

11:11- This statement has always perplexed me. 

 Concluding Remarks

Advent is all about the eschatological hope of the coming Messiah.  In today’s Gospel, the first steps toward the coming Kingdom of God are being taken.  John has prepared the way for Jesus and Jesus has come, is here, and will come again.  The hope of the coming Savior has been revealed in Jesus.  

If I were preaching this week, I might focus on Jesus actions as actions of God’s revealed Kingdom.  I might talk about how unfair God is.  I might also concentrate on the coming of our Lord in ways that go against the grain of what we expect.



Matthew 3:1-12 (Sermon Scraps)

by jpserrano on December 3, 2013 · 0 comments

Advent 2 (Year A)
Matthew 3:1-12

Context: This scripture passage is set just after the birth narrative of Jesus.  The Holy Family flees Bethlehem and then returns to Nazareth. A completely new section begins in today’s Gospel with John the Baptists in (3:1) and the Baptism of Jesus (3:13).

Location:  The Wilderness / Jordan River

Characters: John The Baptist, People of Jerusalem, Pharisees, Sadducees, Jesus


3:1- The importance John the Baptist’s appearing is made explicitly known in Matthew 17:10-13 & 11:13.  His coming is a prelude to the coming of the Messiah.  Because of the later Elijah link, reading the last chapter of Malachi especially 4:5 will help show John’s importance.

3:2- His message of repentance is in light of the Kingdom of Heaven coming near.  God acts first in bringing the coming Kingdom, and John calls people to respond to it with repentance.

3:3- The scripture that is cited is Isaiah 40:3.  

3:4-  John is described as Elijah with what he wears and is pretty close to what Elijah wears  (2 Kings 1:8).  Zech 1:8 is also a textual echo of why he is not a false prophet.

3:5, 6- John was baptizing people with a baptism of repentance.  People would confess their sin and then be washed clean.  There is a difference between John’s baptism and the baptism of the Christian.

3:7- The Pharisees and Sadducees are actually coming for baptism and repentance.  But, John has harsher words for them than anyone else.  Someone has warned them about “the coming wrath” and they responded along with the crowds.  But, it seems like John knows that the water isn’t going to do anything for them because they have no intention of repenting.

3:8- The repentant lifestyle bears fruit.

3:9- The life of faith and repentance is not one where we can trust our lineage or heritage.  It must be manifest in us as individuals and as communities.  We can only trust God’s promises to us.

3:10- This is a clear warning that we are to be bear good fruit amidst our repentance.  What goes for the sadducees and pharisees applies to us as well.  According to Galatians, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control.”  This is the fruit we are bearing.

3:11- Jesus is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.  Christian baptism is not one of solely repentance (purifying fire), but one of the Holy Spirit.

3:12- I think this is the hardest verse of this reading.  “His” is referring to Jesus who is referenced earlier.  There is a clear judgment theme and dividing.    How do we stand under this verse without the mental gymnastics of making say something it doesn’t?  How do we deal with God as judge?  How do we deal with scripture that tells us there are some like wheat and some like chaff?  I’m still working all this out.

 Concluding Remarks

I would encourage preachers not to shy away from the 3:12.  Though this is the most difficult part of the story, I think congregations will want to know what this means for them.  

The second Sunday in Advent is very apocalyptic in nature and surrounds John the Baptist.  But, it is always pointing toward the coming Savior.  This may feel like a detour on the road to Christmas, but, it’s really a pause.  

It’s a reminder that we are called to lives of repentance, fruit, and trust that God makes us wheat not chaff.  We continue to prepare for the coming Messiah who makes us his own in baptism with fire and the Holy Spirit.

This is a Sunday to call people to repentance, renewed faithfulness, and trust in God who sends us a Savior in the form of a baby.



Matthew 24:36-44 (Sermon Scraps)

Advent 1 (Year A) Matthew 24:36-44 Context: Jesus is in Jerusalem after the triumphal entry, cleansing of the temple, cursing of the fig tree, and encountering religious leaders.  Jesus is asked a question by the disciples in verse 24:3.  This reading picks up mid-answer which began in verse 24:4. Location:  Mount of Olives (Matt 24:3) Characters: Jesus is […]

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