Advent Devotional Day 2

Monday, November 28

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:
Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness:
        “Prepare the way for the Lord;
        make his paths straight.”
John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

- Mark 1:1-8

Reflection:

When mentioned in scripture, wilderness carries a lot of weight. The great patriarchs were called out of the wilderness. The Israelites spent time wandering in the wilderness. Some of the prophets were based out of the wilderness. There is a pattern of God revealing Himself to His people despite the harsh conditions of the environment, despite the unruliness and unpredictability of the untamed wild. God refuses to let His people suffer through the trials and struggles of life without His guidance.

The first century Jewish people found themselves in a similar position as their ancestors who were brought out of captivity in Egypt, in a land that might as well be foreign due to the occupying outsider rulers, with seemingly little indication as to the future work and timing of God. Whereas the ancient Israelites were waiting to be brought into the land promised to them, the land flowing with milk and honey, the first century Jews were waiting for the Messiah, the one promised to deliver them again, to rescue them from the cycle of oppression that restarted with their exile and led to the current Roman rule.

This was the purpose of John the Baptist. Not to be that deliverer, but to be the herald at the front of the parade, to announce that the Israelites’ cries had been heard. The Creator of the universe had not left them abandoned and forgotten. Their Redeemer was coming. And in case they were unsure, he would give them signs and indications to assure them. The Gospel of Luke says that John was “filled with the Holy Spirit” while still in the womb. When Mary visited his mother Elizabeth, we are told he lept in her womb with joy at her own message of the coming King. And during his ministry his very appearance was in the likeness of the prophets of old, as untamed and unruly and unyielding as the place of his ministry. And yet his message was not about himself. God’s promise did not end with John.

“One stronger than I am is coming after me.
I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals.
I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


The fullness of God’s promise is to be revealed. We just have to keep looking.

Prayer:

Lord,
Who created the great lights
The sun to rule the day
The moon and stars to govern the night
Who finds endless ways to reveal your boundless love to us
Whose mercy endures forever
In the times when we feel in the wilderness,
Isolated in foreign lands,
or stages of life,
Strangers with no belonging,
Open our eyes to the sign and indications of Your Promise.
Remind us that through Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, we have access to the fullness of Your Presence. And in Your Presence we will always belong.
In His Strong Name we pray.
Amen.

Written by Jonathan Gunasingham

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