Our scripture this week is Matthew 3:1-12.
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
There are several references to Jesus coming to be with us in scripture before we reach His presence in the Gospels. In the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah tells us “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Later in Isaiah we read “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
In this week’s lesson we will hear from John the Baptist speaking of “the one who comes after me” (verse 11). John is baptizing people for repentance, teaching that “the kingdom of Heaven has come near (verse 2). In both cases, John is telling them that Jesus is coming and there will be big changes in the world.
Are we ready for the big changes Jesus will make in our world? Advent is about preparation, changing how we look at things to see them as Jesus does, and to share the gift He brings with all the world. We celebrate His birth best when we are ready to love others and live in the light of His glory.
Gracious God, we are grateful for the blessing of salvation we receive through Jesus. Help us to be faithful followers, worthy to be called Your children. Amen.