Our scripture this week is Matthew 3:1-12.
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.
John the Baptist was a throwback to the prophets of the Old Testament in his lifestyle, living away from the cities and eating simple food. Conversely, he was a forerunner of Jesus and we will hear John’s testimony concerning the Lord, saying “But after me comes one who is more powerful than I” (verse 11). He serves as a connection to Israel’s past, to what they have been taught and what they have done, but also a guide to the future, the blessing God has sent in Christ.
John attracted people from all over and preached to them the need for repentance. His ministry was one of leading the people to change their lives. It wasn’t about what they had done so much as what they could do if they turned their lives around. His focus was on the future, guided but not bound by the past.
Our lives today are more similar to this than we imagine. Our actions are often grounded in what we have done before, both good and bad. During Advent, this time of preparation for His coming, we must make ourselves ready to meet Jesus as if for the very first time. Let’s imagine going down to the river with John to have a life-changing experience, to begin a new way of living in and for Jesus.
Heavenly Father, we don’t deserve the gift of Jesus, but He comes to us anyway. We don’t deserve Your forgiveness, but You send it anyway. Help us to begin to live in new ways, sharing Your love with all the world. Amen.