Luke 1:11–17 (CSB) An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified and overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.”

Malachi 4:1–6 (ESV) “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts. “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Jesus' cousin, John, was in the long lineage of prophets throughout the Old Testament who passionately, emphatically, weirdly, and for most prophets, ultimately murdered, in order to preach one thing that started with God’s proclamation in Genesis 3:15. “God himself will fix everything and make all things right with him. Just believe in God and trust his word!”

But that gospel is either the aroma of Christ for those being saved or the stench of death for those who are perishing. You would think that a life-giving, life-saving message would be eagerly received like a cup of water in a dry desert. No! We are so quick to dump that thirst quenching water on the blistering sand so that we can keep doing the things we want to do.

What are the things we want to keep doing? Sin all the more as if there is no God. Don’t think about non-believers right now. I know plenty of pastors who preach as if there is a God, he doesn’t care about breaking his promises (which God would cease to be God if he broke promises.)

What are the things we want to keep doing? Continue to try to earn favor and righteousness with doing what is right in own eyes? Thank you, I will take a hard pass on that back-breaking yoke and burden of legalism.

Or the newest one: For those who believe and trust in Christ, our sin is perfectly nailed to the cross with Him and buried with Him into the ground. The difference is when Christ conquered death and arose out of the grave by the power of the Holy Spirit, sin didn’t come out of the grave with him! Our sin stays dead! Sin is not holy nor perfect. Our sins were buried with Christ a long time ago. BUT now the world and Christians want to redefine what is sin and not sin. They are say, “No problem, let me go back 2000 years ago, climb up the cross and use my Jesus Christ’s bloodied and broken body for leverage and retrieve my sin out of his nails because I now want to be identified by my sin and not by Jesus Christ!” Insanity. Why would you do that when Christ died once and all for our sin?

The gospel cuts across all of this madness.

You are a great sinner dead in your sins against the Triune God.

You are not and will not ever be good enough to be saved by God.

But God, alone being rich in love, mercy, and grace alone, by the power of the Holy Spirit alone, through the torn-body of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, saved you. Before you even had a thought. Before you even were born. Before you even nursed by your mother. Before the foundations of the world. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God alone.

Believe upon His Son’s name, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

That gospel will save. (Romans 1:16-17) But it also will incite violence. It will tear families apart. It will cause you to be rejected and scorn; to be betrayed and vilified and to be persecuted and stripped bare.

It was this violence that killed most of the prophets in the Old Testament.

And John the Baptist would not the be the exception.

Choose this day on Whom you will serve.