Even John’s warnings were “good news”

Posted Dec 22, 2018

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Daily Scripture

Luke 3:15-18

15 The people were filled with expectation, and everyone wondered whether John might be the Christ. 16 John replied to them all, “I baptize you with water, but the one who is more powerful than me is coming. I’m not worthy to loosen the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.” 18 With many other words John appealed to them, proclaiming good news to the people.

Did You Know?

The Church of the Resurrection offers 27 Candlelight Christmas Eve services over the next three days. Please join us. And why not invite one or more friends to share the peace and joy with you? Click on your campus name—Leawood, West, Downtown, or Blue Springs—for specific service times.

Reflection Questions

Luke’s gospel focused on Jesus' love and acceptance for religious and social outcasts. Why would he say John was “proclaiming good news” in verse 17? Perhaps he was thinking more of the content of verse 16 when he wrote “good news.” But we know that Luke helped with much of the apostle Paul’s effective outreach to Gentiles (cf. Colossians 4:14, Philemon 1:24). Luke may have rejoiced that (however much or little John sensed it as he preached) Jesus had in fact “cleaned out his threshing area” from many prejudices and practices that kept people shut off from God’s love. Having those barriers gone was good news indeed!

  • John the Baptist’s father Zechariah said that God “has brought salvation from our enemies… from the power of all those who hate us” (Luke 1:71). Along with repentance and baptism, John said the Messiah would “clean out his threshing area and… burn the husks” (verse 17). That fit many popular messianic hopes—but “the husks” were supposed to be just Roman and Gentile! Yet Jesus blessed Roman soldiers instead of “cleaning them out,” and he didn’t “burn” what most people thought were the worst sinners. (He did say tough things about self-righteous religious leaders, of all people, e.g., Matthew 23:1-36!) Jesus disappointed even some of his most faithful followers by showing love and mercy to the “husks” of humanity. What does that show you about his mission?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, too often I know who I want you to “clean out.” It’s “them” (however I define that right now). I humbly ask you to instead clean out whatever there is in me that keeps you at arm’s length. Amen.

Family Activity

God chose John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus and to tell others about Him! As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, how can you tell others about Jesus? Using your words, you could let someone know Jesus loves them and cares for them. Through your actions, you might help someone in need, hold a door for another person or share a smile. You can tell others about Jesus through your attitudes of peacefulness, kindness and gentleness. As a family, discuss your own ideas of how you would like to tell others about Jesus this Christmas season. Set aside a time later in the week to share your experiences with one another. Pray for everyone to know the love of Jesus and commit to sharing that love with all people.

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Carol Cartmill

Carol Cartmill

Carol is the Executive Director of Mission and Outreach at Church of the Resurrection. She serves with and guides a gifted team of individuals as together they engage the congregation in serving, connecting and growing. She seeks to be used by God to help people on their journey to know, love and serve God and others.

Jesus came to proclaim good news and his target audience was most often those who would have been considered the cast aside and forgotten ones in his day. Jesus’ message of hope was good news for those who needed most to be reminded of God’s love – people everyone else failed to see or recognize as worthy.

This fall, I traveled to Lebanon to represent Church of the Resurrection at the grand opening of a school for children impacted by the Syrian civil war. Resurrection provided financial resources through last year’s Candlelight Christmas Eve offering to help transform the bombed-out shell of a building into a warm and welcoming space for children. These are primarily refugee children who have been traumatized by war and affected by poverty. One of the significant losses they experience is the inability to attend school. The Safe Spaces school is providing education to bridge the gap between where they are and should be academically, returning some level of normalcy to life and offering a future with hope. I’m proud our congregation will again support the school with proceeds from this year’s offering.

While in Lebanon, I had the opportunity to visit several Syrian refugee camps. Most of us have experienced loss in our lives. The refugees are dealing with loss on a scale I find hard to imagine. In a moment, they lost family members, homes, communities, schools, and livelihoods because of the war. Refugees live in the most difficult conditions, and yet they welcomed our small group into their hearts and humble homes without reservation. They prepared and served us tea, and then sat down with us in a time of amazing fellowship that transcended language and cultural barriers. 

It was a powerful lesson of the importance of sharing good news. Jesus came to proclaim good news to those who would have been considered the last and the least of these. It is incumbent upon us to be bearers of this good news, to be used by God as tangible reminders of God’s love. One way to do so is to seek out intentional times of sharing and fellowship with others who are experiencing loss and feeling forgotten. Another is through our Candlelight Christmas Eve offering, 100% of which will serve vulnerable children and families, here in Kansas City and around the world through our global partnerships. (You can learn more about our Christmas Eve Offering here.)

It is also important to open our own hearts and minds to the possibility that those we seek to serve might just end up reminding us of our own need to be recipients of God’s good news of unconditional love and amazing grace.

May we receive and share the light of Christ in our hearts! Merry Christmas!

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