Jesus' coming'

Sunday Reflection

6th December 2020

'prepare the way'

A voice cries out:

'in the wilderness
 prepare the way of the Lord,
 make straight
 in the desert
 a highway for our God."

..... (Isaiah 40.3)

The readings for
this Sunday are
all about preparation;
preparing for the
coming of the Messiah.

But first there are words
of comfort and encouragement
from the prophet Isaiah

  Comfort, comfort my people,
  says your God.

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
  and proclaim to her
  that her hard service
  has been completed,
  that her sin
  has been paid for,
  that she has received
  from the Lord's hand
  double for all her sins.

..... Isaiah 40:1,2

What beautiful words!
It radiates joy for Israel
at a time when they
were in exile,
but also preparing to
face a huge march
across thousands
of miles of
unforgiving desert,
with very rough terrain,
to return home
to Jerusalem.

4 Every valley shall be raised up,
  every mountain and hill made low;
  the rough ground
  shall become level,
  the rugged places
  a plain.

Were they going to get
an easy journey home?

We are not told but is it
good to be encouraged.

10 See, the Sovereign Lord
  comes with power,
11 He tends his flock
  like a shepherd:
  He gathers the lambs
  in his arms
  and carries them close
  to his heart;
  he gently leads
  those that have young.

I am sure they would have
started out with a
much braver heart
knowing that God
was with them,
smoothing their journey
together with the
expectation of the
coming Messiah.

But the book of Isaiah
was written in the
sixth century BC so it
would be many
hundreds of years
before John the
Baptist appeared
on the scene heralding
the imminent
arrival of Jesus.

John the Baptist is a most
extraordinary individual.
He is clearly not an
ambitious man;
he had no designs on one
of the top jobs
back in Jerusalem.

Instead, he spoke his mind
freely without fear
or desire for favour.
He spoke the words
he believed that God
wanted the people to hear
and the people
flocked out to hear him,
no doubt attracted by
his honesty and integrity.

This preparatory ministry
of John the Baptist
is mentioned in all
four gospels and it
was predicted long before
he was even born.

His forerunning was essential
to what Jesus had come to do.

John got the people thinking
about their lives -
about their relationship with God.

It must have been refreshing
for those who travelled out
of the city into the desert
to listen to such a man.

Yet he never chose
comfortable words,
rather he challenged
the people in a way
that they had not been
challenged before.

He called people back
to their core beliefs
and reminded them of the days
when they lived
in the desert.

This advent we are called also
back to fundamentals,
to prepare ourselves
for the coming of our Lord.

John called people out
into the desert
and asks them change
their thinking and their ways
and to be baptised
as a sign of a
change of attitude.

Listening to the words
of John the Baptist
it is clear that there
are real challenges
for each one of us.

John told people
to be baptised and to go
on to show change of
personal lifestyle
in all sorts of ways
which were compatible
with their awareness
of the forgiveness of God.

As they were shown mercy,
so they too must now
show mercy to others.

Advent is the time to prepare
for the time of the Lord's
nativity and
to look forward to
his second coming.

It is time to prepare
for our encounter
with the Lord Jesus.
It is a time for all of us
to identify what needs
what needs levelling.

John is saying that it is
necessary to change the root of
human behaviour,
it is a substantial change
and not something superficial.

The whole panorama
would be changed by Christ,
the valleys would be lifted up
and the mountains laid low.

The kingdom of Heaven is near;
forgiveness is as close
as our asking.

A full and meaningful life,
lived with an eye on eternity
and not just on the now,
is as close as turning to God
and away from selfishness.

Today, the Kingdom of God is near.

That's really the reason Jesus came,
to bring heaven near.
He loves us as we are,
and He loves us too much
to leave us the way we are.