Dec 16 2021 Reflection
Thursday 16 December 2021
First Reading: Is 54:1-10
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Ps 30:2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b
Gospel Reading: Lk 7:24-30
Today’s Note: Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.
“What did you go out to the desert to see a reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine garments?
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces.
Then what did you go out to see?
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom Scripture says:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.
I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God;
but the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by him,
rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
Why did a vast multitude of people, including many tax collectors, submit to John’s baptism of repentance? They recognized that God has given John a prophetic ministry of reconciliation with God. They received John’s prophetic message as good news of God’s gift of pardon and salvation for them. God was offering new life and restoration to all who would prepare their hearts to receive the promised Messiah and his kingdom of peace and righteousness.
The promise of full restoration and peace with God
Isaiah had prophesied 700 years before the coming of the Messiah that God would not forget his bride, the people of Israel, who endured testing and exile because of their unfaithfulness to his covenant with them (Isaiah 54:5-8). God promised to restore them because of his steadfast love and covenant of peace which he made with them. Now through the ministry of John the Baptist, we see the beginning of this restoration as John announces the coming of the promised Messiah.
John was greater than all the prophets
When Jesus began his public ministry he praised John the Baptist as one who superseded all the prophets of the Old Covenant. John was the voice of the Consoler who is coming (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:1-3). He completed the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14). What the prophets had carefully searched for and angels longed to see, now came to completion as John made the way ready for the coming of the Messiah, God’s Anointed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12).
Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest person born of woman. What an amazing compliment for a righteous man who had spent most of his life praying in the wilderness before he began to publicly announce the coming of the Messiah. Why did Jesus seem to contradict his compliment of John, with the astounding statement that the least in the kingdom of God would be even greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28)? Jesus came to give his people and the whole world something which John the Baptist could not accomplish on his own.
The voice is John – the word is Christ
What John announced – Jesus fulfilled. John preached a baptism for repentance – turning away from sin and obeying God’s word. And he pointed his disciples to Jesus and proclaimed that he was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise to set people free from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Through his atoning death on the cross and his rising in glory on the third day, Jesus won for all who would believe in him – full pardon, reconciliation, and adoption as the beloved sons and daughters of the living God.
John announced that the Lord Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). The Lord Jesus fills us with the power of the Holy Spirit and with his purifying fire so that we may shine brightly with the radiance of his transforming love and holiness. And he gives us the courage and boldness to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to those around us. Ask the Lord Jesus to set you on fire with his transforming love and holiness.
Lord Jesus, set my heart on fire with burning love for You and for your kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. May I always radiate you love and mercy and point others to the joy and truth of the Gospel.