December 11, 2016
Matthew 11:2-11
James 5:7-10
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 146:5-10


The Real Deal
Advent 3


Click here for the full installment.



Dean Feldmeyer
In this week’s gospel lectionary text, John dispatches his followers to confront Jesus and ask him: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” In other words, as team member Dean Feldmeyer points out in the next installment of The Immediate Word, John wants to know if Jesus is the true messiah, or if he’s just another in a long line of false prophets and hucksters trading on people’s gullibility. Jesus’ response is intriguing -- he simply tells John’s disciples to “go and tell John what you hear and see.” Rather than trying to sell them with a typical spiel, Jesus is content to let his actions speak, and for them to demonstrate his genuineness.

And yet, Dean notes, it is not just John the Baptist and Jesus who are the “real deal.” We too are called to the same high standard of authentic Christian behavior -- for as Jesus pointedly remarks: “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Thus, when we enter the kingdom we have surpassed our human frailties and sins. But how can we possibly live up to such a lofty standard? Dean suggests that the answer is to be found in this week’s Isaiah passage, where the prophet tells us that “a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.” God has provided us a roadmap -- one that anyone can follow. Here’s a preview:

 

The Real Deal
by Dean Feldmeyer
Matthew 11:2-11; Isaiah 35:1-10

“The real deal.” Ask an internet search engine like Google or Bing for a definition of that phrase and you’ll get a handful of entries that, when put together, look something like this: An American idiom used to describe people or things that are genuine, real, legitimate, or authentic; possessed of all of the characteristics attributed to them; genuinely superior or impressive in some regard and therefore worthy of appreciation or respect. Synonym: “The real McCoy.”

John the Baptist heard about this Jesus guy, some claims about miracles, some stories about healings. There was even some conjecture that this guy might be the messiah, the anointed one of God. John wanted more than just hearsay, though. He wanted eyewitness testimony. He wanted it straight from the horse’s mouth. But he was in jail, so he sent his disciples to find out: “Is this guy the real deal?”

So they tracked him down, and not the sort to hem and haw around, they walked right up to Jesus and asked him: “Are you the real deal? Or are you another fake, a poser, another counterfeit prophet, telling people what they expect to hear for an easy buck?”

Jesus is not offended by the question. He answers it clearly and straightforward, frankly and honestly. His answer, and the question that occasioned it, are as important today as they were the first time they were uttered.

Was he? Are you? Am I? If not, how do I become “the real deal”?

Click here for the full installment.


>> Subscribe to The Immediate Word

What is The Immediate Word?

The Immediate Word gives a theological perspective on today's headlines and popular culture for your sermon, children’s sermon, and worship service. The Immediate Word gives a theological perspective on today's headlines and popular culture.

Cutting Edge: THE IMMEDIATE WORD gives you the tools to be cutting edge ... to put you in touch with today's most critical issues and to aid you in crafting messages and presentations that will truly help your congregants understand the Gospel in the context of what is current and most important to them.

Collaborative: THE IMMEDIATE WORD is a unique collaboration of some of the sharpest, most contemporary clergy of our day in an Internet-based service that gives you weekly information, inspiration, and presentation materials for your sermon, children’s sermon, and worship service.

Enabling: THE IMMEDIATE WORD will enable you to create high-impact sermons, children’s sermons, sermon outlines, worship services and compose pastoral prayers that help people pray with you, write compelling pastoral columns for your newsletter, arm your Sunday school teachers with meaningful, up-to-the-minute discussion sermon material, speak more constructively during the "Concerns of the Church" portion of your sermon, children's sermon and worship service about matters that worry your parishioners, advertise timely discussion topics to draw people into your church, and more.

Interactive: THE IMMEDIATE WORD is a dynamic, interactive process. First, among the team of clergy that creates it every week. Secondly, with you: you can personally participate in the creation process by providing your input and reactions to the input of others on new sermons, children’s sermons, sermon outlines and worship resources.

Timely: THE IMMEDIATE WORD sends participants the topic of the week on Friday and the final product on Tuesday afternoon, giving you time to digest the sermon and worship service materials and then incorporate them into your preparations for the coming Sunday service to deliver high-impact sermons and worship services.

Satisfaction Guaranteed: THE IMMEDIATE WORD is not only guaranteed to satisfy you, we believe it will actually energize your ministry. We are so confident that you will find THE IMMEDIATE WORD to be such a great value that if you are not completely satisfied with the service we will refund the balance of your subscription payment, no questions asked.

>> Subscribe to The Immediate Word