Third Sunday in Advent


 Sermon Text: John 1:6-8, 19-28

 Other Readings: Malachi 4:1-6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24


  1. The priests and Levites went from Jerusalem to the wilderness around Bethany to ask John who he was. What does it tell us about the effect John’s ministry was having?
  2. Malachi 4:5,6 was a prophecy of John the Baptist and his ministry. In what ways did John fulfill this prophecy?
  3. What did the Priests and Levites have in mind when they asked John if he was “the Prophet” (v. 21)? Confer Deuteronomy 18:15.
  4. Agree or disagree? Why?     What the world really needs right now are more prophets like John.


  1. The priests and Levites were “professional religious people” in charge of sacrifices and worship at the temple, respectively. The fact that they walked miles into the wilderness to talk to one preacher shows us that John’s proclamation was having a profound effect, by the Spirit’s blessing (cf. Mark 1:5).
  2. Like Elijah in the Old Testament, John the Baptist proclaimed the Word of God and pointed ahead to the Messiah. John preached a message of repentance, which is a change of mind or a turn of heart. In that sense, he very much fulfilled Malachi 4:6. (While John fulfilled this prophecy and was called “Elijah,” he was not Elijah reincarnated as people in our text thought.)
  3. The Israelites were anticipating a prophet in the mold of Moses. They were asking John if he was the fulfillment of that prophecy. Later, people connected Jesus to that prophecy (cf. John 6:14).
  4. If we think that the world needs more John the Baptists because the world needs to hear strong messages of repentance, that is only partly true. If we think that the world needs more Johns who testify to the light of Jesus and point to him as the Messiah, that is very true. God has given each Christian the ability and the command to confront others about sin and point to Jesus’ forgiveness. In that sense, if we are praying for more John’s, God answers our prayer by telling us, “You can do that!”