Jesus is the Central Focus of Our Message and the Joy in Our Living
These are the Scripture readings for the Third Sunday in Advent.
God’s Word for This Week
We often become enamored with eloquent and influential speakers who promise wealth and ease. But Malachi said that the true messenger of God would be another Elijah. He would speak God’s Word and prepare people for God’s judgment. He would turn fathers’ hearts to their children and children’s hearts to their fathers. Through the Word comes real change in our faith-born outlook. Through the Word comes humility that longs to serve God.
First Lesson – Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11
Upon whom is this prophecy mainly focusing?
When Jesus read this passage in the synagogue (Luke 4:21) he announced that it was talking about him. Many missed the good news he was anointed to preach with his life, death, and resurrection. Life is often filled with misery, trouble, and disappointment, but the good news from Jesus as Savior brings comfort and strength.
What are some of the changes that come in a relationship to God through Christ?
Life may be rough and bring people down, but Jesus covers us with gladness and praise, beauty, and splendor. A brand new spirit invades the negative environment of our sinful hearts and makes it alive!
Who makes all these changes?
The LORD, Jahweh, the God of faithful love, purchased a robe of righteousness for us through the righteous life of Jesus. He wraps that around us and views us as beautiful. This should result in greater praise to God and a new view of the people of God—ones who are forgiven and clothed with Christ.
Supplemental First Lesson – Malachi 4:1-6
In verses 5-6, whom does the Lord promise to send?
The Lord promises to send Elijah. Elijah had been a prophet centuries before Malachi, though. Jesus said that John the Baptist was the Elijah whom Malachi had foretold (Matthew 11:14).
If everything will burn and all the arrogant people will be stubble, should we concentrate on money and the things it can buy? Why or why not?
No, we shouldn’t concentrate on things that will burn. We shouldn’t imitate the godless and their ways. That is senseless. Also, someday we will trample those who may today be trampling us. Instead, we will trust in God’s promises, do good in whatever callings God has placed us, and wait eagerly for the Last Day.
Look at verse 2. What will happen when the last day dawns? What will be the end result for us?
When the Last Day dawns, the rays of Jesus’ glory (which Malachi pictures as the “wings” of the rising sun) will heal us in every way. The joy! Judgment day will bring freedom for all believers. We will be so happy that we will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
Second Lesson – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
When the Holy Spirit changes us, what attitudes will emerge?
Attitudes including joy, habitual prayer, unflappable thanks despite obstacles, respect for God and his word all have a part in our Christian living. In all things we are to stay away from every brand of evil.
How in the world are we to keep our whole spirit, soul, and body blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus?
We don’t have to do it. God called it; God will do it. If we try to make these changes on our own we will end up even more frustrated and guilty. These are attitudes that emerge as a fruit of the Spirit as he works in us. “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
Gospel – John 1:6-8, 19-28
Who was the focal point of John’s message?
Some might have focused on John as their leader. But John said he wasn’t the “light” but only the messenger to point out the light. Jesus is the Light of the world.
What was John’s attitude toward Christ?
John didn’t want the spotlight on himself but on Christ. His selfless humility is heard as he voiced that he wasn’t even worthy to do slave duty for Christ. Can we have any less an understanding of our relationship to Christ?