Great Encouragement From Isaiah And Jesus

Thursday of Week 3 in Advent

Is. 54:1-10 & Lk. 7:24-30

The reading from Isaiah is meant to encourage us. Life may have been grim. Imagine the pain of a woman who longs for children but cannot conceive or a woman who has been deserted by her husband because she did not conceive. Consider the shame we feel when we think of all the things we did when we were young that we hope no one remembers. But Isaiah also reminds us that in the midst of all that frightens, grieves, and shames us, God comes to remind us that He will never leave us. “With everlasting love I have taken pity of you.” That should cause us to break forth in jubilant song as Isaiah exhorts us to do. In other words, it is better that we learn to focus on what God does for us than try to explain or cope with bad things that happen.

Notice it is not until John’s disciples depart that Jesus honours John the Baptist. People went into the wilderness to see John, and Jesus asks what did they go to see? Obviously not to see a reed swaying in the breeze, not a spineless person or someone who said only what people want to hear. Nor a man dressed in fine clothes. John was dressed in camel’s hair. They went to see a prophet and John more than a prophet. He is the first prophet in 400 years, a prophet that was prophesied about. He had a very important responsibility. He was to prepare the way for the Messiah. While all the other prophets only spoke about the coming Messiah, John the Baptist, would actually be alive when the Messiah arrived. That makes him the greatest of all the prophets.

Jesus said though John was the greatest prophet, the least in God’s kingdom is greater than he. What did He mean? Some think Jesus is talking about His apostles and evangelists, and New Testament prophets, and interpret the words thus, “Though the Baptist excelled all the preceding prophets, the least inspired person in the kingdom of heaven, the least apostle or preacher of the gospel, was a greater prophet than he, being much better acquainted with the person and doctrine of Christ. They were also employed, not in making preparation for, but in erecting the Messiah’s kingdom; hence they were greater than the Baptist in respect of the dignity of their office. Moreover, having gifts bestowed on them to fit them for that office. They had the Spirit so dwelling in them, that, on all occasions they could faithfully declare the will of God.”

As we prepare for Christ’s coming into our lives anew this Advent season let us take heart from Jesus’ words that if we are within the kingdom of God we are greater than John the Baptist.