Advent Devotion for December 10
Candle Lighter says: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you.”
Response: “Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!”
SCRIPTURE: Mark 1:1-8
1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began 2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”
4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 5 All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 6 His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
7 John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
SOME THOUGHTS: Mark opens his book announcing the “Good News,” in Greek, Evangelion, from which we get “evangelical” among other words. It is frequently translated "gospel." From the very beginning of his writing, Mark identifies Jesus as Messiah, the anointed one in Hebrew. In the earlier Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were all anointed with oil indicating God’s presence with, blessing of, and authority given that person. That is why people were to take the words of the prophet seriously. God was literally speaking through the prophet’s mouth. Israel had been looking and waiting for a descendant of King David, the Messiah, the anointed one. This pericope is not so much about John the Baptist as it is about Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah. Mark builds the case for Jesus’ identity by quoting two of the most prominent Old Testament prophecies in Malachi and Isaiah. The early church referred to itself as “the Way,” perhaps in reference to this Isaiah quote.
John generated great interest from the public. There had been no prophet of God for nearly 400 years and now the prophet John, like Elijah of old, appeared out of the desert with a call to all for repentance and confession of sin. His baptism was an outward sign that the people had repented and turned to God for forgiveness. Huge crowds came out to see and hear John’s message. The Scriptures tell us that all of Jerusalem and all of Judea, roughly 2700 square miles, (Mediterranean to Dead Sea to Sea of Galilee) came out to see this prophet from the desert.
MUSIC: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus by Fernando Ortega (YouTube)
PRAYER: I wonder Lord, if I had lived in the time of John the Baptist, if I would have traveled out into the desert to hear him? My life is so filled with distractions now. I have trouble staying focused when I pray. I don’t seem to be able to do the necessary things. I wind up wasting time and doing trivial things. To be truthful, I sort of avoid being alone with you. It’s kind of embarrassing to be transparent. Maybe part of me thinks you’re tired and disappointed with such a fickle follower. Father, take me in your arms and let me hear John’s voice again. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.