Today’s Reading: Click Here – John 1:19-28 (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)
Last week, we read about Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, who both were with child, and that Elizabeth’s son was to be named John and that he would be great. In our passage today, we discover that greatness that was foretold, of one to ‘Prepare the way for the Lord.’ (Matthew 3:1-3). As he baptized the people, the leaders kept pressing John to say who he was because the people were expecting the Messiah, but John only emphasized WHY he had come, which was ‘to prepare the way for the Messiah,’ thus, the Pharisees missing the whole point. In wanting to know who he was, John would prepare them to recognize who Jesus was when he came. John baptized with water – he was merely helping the people perform a symbolic act of repentance, that soon, one would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, truly forgive sins and save the world, something only the Son of God – the Messiah- could do, and John was preparing the way.
We are in the third week of Advent, the ‘Wonder of Love’. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without love. In fact, Christmas wouldn’t even exist without God’s love! In John 3:16-17 we read:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Christmas only happens because God gave his son, Jesus, so that the world could be saved and our relationship with our Heavenly Father be restored. And right now, we feel that we live in a world that needs to be saved today. I’m not just talking about covid, or politics, but about each and every one of us as individuals. You see, every human being was created by God with a plan to love and to be loved by Him. But along the way, the entire course of humanity became tainted, God was ignored and people went their our own way – it’s what we call “sin”, and sin separates us from God and from the real meaning of life, which is to love God and to be loved by Him.
God SO loves you and me, more than we could ever imagine. That’s why he sent Jesus, to save us from that unintended separation. We were created to be with God. Jesus died for our sins, took our place so that our broken relationship with God could be restored. And He didn’t just stop there – he conquered death and rose again – so that every person who believes in Jesus can have eternal life and be with God forever, even after our human bodies have passed away. This life on Earth is temporary. Just like a woman’s womb is a temporary home for a baby until it is born into this life, not meant to remain there forever. We too are not meant to remain here forever. God wants each of us with him in eternity.
And that is what we celebrate at Christmas, the birth of Jesus, who came to this world to die, so that we could be saved. And Jesus only came because of God’s LOVE for us, created in His image. This love, taught us to love one another. Amazingly, we are God’s treasure and if we follow Him, He is truly ours.
Love consists in this: “not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10). “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8).
If we want to know how to love one another, we can look at the love that sent Jesus to earth to live a life of love and pay the price for all of our sins. THAT is LOVE in the purest form. This isn’t a love of fancy words and impossible tasks. This is a love that says, ’I am willing to love you no matter what.’ We CAN love BECAUSE He first loved us! The way has been prepared!
We express that no matter what the church tradition, we can assuredly know that virtues such as love, hope, peace, joy, and faith are important in the Christmas story as well as in our daily walk with Christ. Whichever we celebrate on whatever Sunday in Advent, we realize all of them are important hallmarks of the Christian faith and the focus is Love this week, known as the Message Candle, as a time for one to convey LOVE or thank those special some ones during this Advent week.
Share: a special Christmas memory.
Encourage: one who is struggling this season, point them to Jesus.
Evaluate: if your heart set right to love people the same way Christ loves you?
Pray: for wisdom and direction to strive to be ‘righteous in God’s eyes’.
Search: for LOVE so amazing this Advent week.
Here are a few songs for your spiritual listening pleasure and Advent meditation:
Heavenly Father, you have always been all about LOVE, Love pure Love. Your precious gift of your Son Jesus was of that pure love. Keep us safe from the thieves who come to steel the message of love, joy, faith, hope and peace at Christmas. For you have taught us to LOVE one another from this Holy Night and always. May LOVE be what fills our hearts this Christmas and every day. Amen.
Resources: lifeway.com/Matt Tullos /Festival.church/Kerry Perry