The 3rd Sunday of Advent

The Forerunner

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John the Baptist
The 3rd Sunday of Advent
The Forerunner

Picture courtesy of lavistachurchofchrist.org

Ok people get ready for that feeling of "Déjà Vu" because yesterday I wrote about “The spirit of Elijah” being on John the Baptist the harbinger or forerunner of Christ, and today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent and it is all about John the Baptist the Forerunner of Christ.

The 3rd Advent Candle

The third advent candle is The Candle of Love but it is tied to John the Baptist. Love is like a candle shining in a dark place as we look at the light of this candle and celebrate the love that we have in Christ.

John came and announced that the “Light of the World” was coming. He prepared the way in people’s hearts, calling them to repent. Advent used to be called “the small Lent”, and is like Lent a time to reflect on our walk with Jesus and repent of any sins or mistakes that may be separating us from God and be reconciled to God and our neighbours and family members before we celebrate his birth. So let us take a slightly closer look at Jesus cousin.

The gospels tell us John was a wild man living in the wilderness, clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. Jesus went to him to be baptised and both he and Jesus clearly taught the same message:

‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’.

Taking a source outside of the gospels, a Jewish historian, Josephus writing about the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, remarks about John:

‘He was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing join in baptism. . .’ (Josephus, Antiquities 18.5.2).

The gospel of Luke places John the Baptist squarely in world history. John was what the Jews expected of a prophet traditionally, a “crazy man” calling in the wilderness, fasting and preaching what God spoke to him. He said, “One is coming whose sandals I am not fit to tie, I baptise in water, but he will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Indeed he does, the Holy Spirit comes on all those who believe in Jesus Christ and seek his face, and so does fire in the form of a hunger for the things of God, fire in the soul, and also persecution.

But let this encourage us in our Christmas preparations to gaze outside our small world at the bigger world outside, and to grasp how the Christmas story is a gift for the whole of humanity.