John the Baptist

John the Baptist is the focus for this Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent.  His mission was to prepare the way.  Last week I said that a prophet does not announce the future but sees the world as God sees and speaks in God’s name.

(God said) I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command (Deuteronomy 18:18).

John saw as God saw – he saw unhappy people who were wanting more from life.  He saw people who did not know right from wrong, people who said one thing but did another, people who were not kind to each other, people who were concerned only for their own survival, people who were easily led astray.

The people he saw did not understand the concept of sin.  Sin was and is anything that gets in the way of our relationship with God. Sin is any kind of messing up, from silly mistakes to major errors to criminal actions.  The people could honestly say that they had not committed murder but did not realize that to wish harm to someone was/is just as bad.  To want something belonging to someone else was/is a sin.  Failing to look after family members was/is a sin.

John the Baptist went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
    and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”’  (Luke 3: 3 -6)

Repentance means recognizing where we have done wrong or failed to do the right thing. The message of John the Baptist holds good today:  Repentance brings forgiveness which removes and heals the damage of sin.  every valley (Sir Collin Davis, Mark Padmore, LSO)

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