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.”
John the Baptist holds a special place in in all of bible history as the last prophet of Israel before Jesus began to teach. As his title implies, he was also responsible for baptizing many who came to him seeking to be forgiven. As we will hear later, even Jesus came to him to be baptized.
Israel had a sad record of not obeying the warnings given by the prophets and many of them were put death for the “bad news” they proclaimed. John was no different, sharing the fact that “the kingdom of heaven has come near” and calling the people to repent of their sins (verse 2). Many heeded his preaching, were baptized and may have later become followers of Jesus.
The members of the religious and political establishment were threatened by his teaching, as they were by Jesus teaching later. It is not easy to hear that things are about to change when you are in control. What things keep us from admitting our sins, and repenting, giving up control to the Lord and living new lives? During this season of Advent we need to examine how we are living and realize that the kingdom of heaven is nearer than we know.
Loving Lord, we are slow to hear the truth and even slower to change our ways. Forgive us and help us to be the followers we should be, sharing the light of your love with everyone. Amen.