SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT: PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD
Sermon Text | Matthew 3:1-12
Devotional Reading | Isaiah 40:1-5 (below)
Comfort, O comfort my people
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
In the midst of Babylonian exile, Isaiah's prophetic words of comfort would have been good news to a hurting people. To this abandoned, battered community who supposed God had left them, Isaiah promises that the Lord is coming and that his "glory will be revealed." These words would be fulfilled by John the Baptist centuries later.
John the Baptist was calling people to repentance and pointing them to the Lamb of God. In the midst of Roman occupancy and oppression, the people of God would find hope in the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. His glory was being revealed; his kingdom was arriving. Today, we may find ourselves in various forms of oppression, abandonment, or exile. For us, it is the second coming of Christ that stirs hope in our hearts. We prepare the way for the Lord by living in humble obedience to and anticipation of our coming King. We watch and wait for the restoration of all things.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. How did John the Baptist fulfill the words of Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord?" How did he call people to live in light of Jesus' first coming?
2. How are we called to live in light of Christ's return?
PRAYER OF RESPONSE
Loving God, you sent your prophet John to prepare your way among us, to call us to repentance and make our paths straight. Strengthen us to live lives of steadfast love and faithfulness as we await the Messiah's return, that all may see your reign of peace through your just and gracious rule. Amen.