The Power of the Announcement
As a public speaker, I learned to appreciate a good introduction. If my introducer sketched my background, established my credibility to speak on my topic, and drew a connection between me and the audience, my job was easy. The very best introducers also managed to convey a sense of excitement about hearing me speak.
I’ve come to think of the Apostle Paul as the original advice columnist. He started many churches on his missionary journeys and after he left a place, the new Christians there would send letters asking for advice. His responses would be read at worship and shared with other Christian communities, and they were meant for us, too.
God sent John the Baptist to introduce Jesus to the world. John had attracted a following with his message urging the people to repent of their sins and receive from him a baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Some thought John was the promised Messiah, but the Bible is very clear: “He himself was not the light, but he came to testify about the light” (John 1:8) – “light” meaning Jesus.
And testify he did. It was John’s job to prepare the way for Jesus to be listened to. John gave Jesus his enthusiastic endorsement in Mark 1:7: “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.” And he created a sense of excitement among the people who sought him out in the wilderness: “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)
Without John to prepare the way and lend his credibility to Jesus, this newcomer, it would have been much harder for Jesus to be accepted as someone speaking with authority. His credentials as the son of a carpenter from Nazareth wouldn’t position him as someone to be listened to on spiritual matters.
God knew this, and in Old Testament times he inspired the Prophet Isaiah to write that God would send a messenger ahead of the Messiah. The people of Israel would wonder if John and Jesus were the ones foretold. God confirmed this when John baptized Jesus, saying for all to hear: “This is my beloved son. In him I am well-pleased.”
In this season of Advent, we also can testify to the light that is Jesus by letting the light within us shine. Worship every week, serve in the community, help those in need, invite those without a church home to come with you to Sheridan. You can be a great introduction to the joy of the Lord!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the light that is Jesus. Use me to prepare the way for others to receive the light. Amen.
Written by Cheryl Stubbendieck
Mark 1:4-8 (NRSV)
“John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.“
Cheryl Stubbendieck is a member of Sheridan’s Devotion Writing Team. She and her husband Jim live near Sheridan. Their family includes their son Aaron and his wife Chaitra of San Francisco, CA and their son Reed of Madison, WI. Cheryl was the public relations department head for Nebraska Farm Bureau before retiring in 2012. She spent the next four years as the volunteer manager of Barnabas Community and now helps to manage the OneSent Market.