Text: Mark 1:1-8
Theme and Title: Voice
Hymn of the Day: On Jordan’s Bank . . . (No. 344)
The “voice crying in the wilderness” belongs to the Baptist, called the most blessed of men by Jesus.
And . . .
It is my voice. It is a plea for rescue. And to look at the Cross is to know we are John – the most blessed of men, crying for help.
I cannot speak for another soul, for I only know my own sinfulness. Oh, I may not show it publicly, but I know it, because it is a part of who I am. Not, mind you, what I supposed will be or will actually be, but it is what I am. And so I long for the present Advent I will receive at that Altar in a short while in the Body and the Blood of my Lord, but also, His coming Advent which will end time and introduce Eternity.
It is right there, saying such a thing, that results in the One Holy Faith being ridiculed. We moderns know so much better than that! We have the remarkable advances of science and technology and philosophy and all that is about us in this present world. Why should we even accept such a “Voice crying in the wilderness?”
Because it is our ‘voice” nonetheless. And we know it. You know it is true. Tell me I am wrong! I am not.
Those words in our “public” confession – the same words I use in my private confession to the Lord or to my Father Confessor – “Sinful and unclean” – are words I hate. The modern in me, the human in me, the man in me – hates those words, because they mean I have missed the mark altogether. And that is the literal definition of sin – hamartia – missing the mark. Tell me anything but that! I hate hearing I have failed – either myself, or God. And yet, sadly, I have and do so often. With St. Paul I can only cry out – “O wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of this death?”
I have only the consolation Luther knew:
“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”
When we claim to think God won’t understand us and our failures, we fail to understand the one thing we cannot understand, or even grasp – perfection. We do not have a clue. And yet, John hails it, Christ brings it. He does not yet demand it of us – but only that we accept it FROM Him. And that, most all of the Church and the world refuses to do.
We have this perpetual need, born of our first parents’ sin, to be “gods’ ourselves. So “self-absorbed” – such idiots – and we imagine ourselves wise. And therein lies our need in John’s words – “The voice of one crying in the wilderness.” The Baptist cries out for each and every one of us!
I shan’t spend long on this one. One, it is not in me. Two, we need to get that we are sinners, and belaboring that point does no good. If in Christ you find no hope, I cannot hope for nor help you. If you do – you own eternity already. It is that simple.
John cried out expecting an answer.
Christ came. He comes in the Eucharist. He will come again.