John the Baptist is preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. Because of the success of John’s mission, people are wondering if John himself is the promised one. But, no. John says he is not the Messiah. He assures people that the Messiah will work with authority and will judge and baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The preaching of John is clear, trenchant, practical, and fearless. The truth of it pierces everyone in his audience, and it is an example for all who seek to preach the good news.
Today we seldom hear sermons which are as fearless and passionate as John’s. Do we even want to hear this kind of message? More often it seems that we want our preachers to deliver only what we want to hear. We usually prefer that they not make us too uncomfortable. After all, who wants to hear about the chaff burned with unquenchable fire!
The true Messiah—the One for whom John prepared the way—is Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. We know that whoever believes in him will receive everlasting life. (See John 3:16.) Some people come to Jesus expecting material blessings rather than to have their spiritual needs met. But Jesus himself instructed us to seek first the kingdom of God. (See Matthew 6:33.) And this kingdom work doesn’t always bring comfort in the traditional sense.
This Advent season, let us continue to look for Christ’s presence, his coming into all the circumstances of our lives. As Messiah, he comes to free us from whatever weakens or imprisons us. Let us give thanks then for Christ Jesus, the everlasting source of our healing and freedom!
Lord Jesus, give us the courage and passion to proclaim and to live out the good news of the salvation we have in you. Amen.
Reviewing the scripture passages for this week, the hymn title “Rejoice, Give Thanks and Sing” might come to mind. The writers of this week’s texts advise us to do all these things. At this time of year, these responses often seem to come naturally for many of us. The prophet Zephaniah exhorts his audience to sing aloud and rejoice. The prophet Isaiah calls on the people of Judah to “give thanks to the Lord.” In the letter to the Philippians, Paul advises his audience to “rejoice in the Lord always.” The tone of the Luke passage for this week is more somber; through the words of John the Baptist, Luke challenges his audience to maintain right relationships with God and humanity. Taken together, these passages provide a number of life lessons.
Read Zephaniah 3:14-20. Recall a time when you have experienced joy in the midst of trouble. Give thanks to God for your joy.
Read Isaiah 12:2-6. How does your trust in God enable you to overcome fear?
Read Philippians 4:4-7. Are you able to release your worries to God when you pray, or do you tend to hold on to the worry even after you have prayed about it?
Read Luke 3:7-18. Where in your life are you being nudged to do the right thing? How will you respond?
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