Third Sunday in Advent

Knowing Jesus Brings Wondrous Joy

These are the readings for the Third Sunday in Advent.

God’s Word for This Week

The coming of Christ into the world the first time created joy like none other. His reappearing will bring unimaginable joy to all who really know him and trust in him. The better we know God’s grace to us in forgiving all our sins and his concern for all our needs, the more we will seek to serve him and help others. Once again, we will rejoice.

Traditional First Lesson – Zephaniah 3:14-17

What is the emotion that he desires in “Zion”?

Daughters of Zion, Israel, and Daughters of Jerusalem signify God’s people. He prepares them for emotions of joy and gladness as well as a quiet peace inside. With fear and sadness removed, they get their hands eagerly focused on doing his work.

What is the motivation for such emotions?

The Lord has taken away the punishment for their rebellion and now protects them. How true that is for us in the person of Jesus who died for sins, now rules over all things, loves us, and rejoices in us as he leads us to joyfully serve him.

Supplemental First Lesson – Nehemiah 8:9-18

Why had many Jewish people in Jerusalem wept?

People had wept as they listened to the words of the Law which God had given Israel on Mount Sinai. The Law showed them how they had sinned against God. It also may have made them think of loved ones who had been killed when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, fulfilling God’s ancient threats in the Law.

What reason did Nehemiah give people not to weep?

Nehemiah said, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Second Lesson – Philippians 4:4-7

What two attitudes does Paul encourage in us here?

Paul tells us to rejoice and to live not for ourselves but let our gentleness (treating others kindly and fairly) be evident to all. Anxious? Paul says to pray (for others too).

How can someone feel joyful in the troubled world we see all around us?

The Lord is near! God’s peace will guard our minds in Christ Jesus.

Gospel – Luke 3:7-18

What did John the Baptist say comes with real repentance?

John told the crowd that they should produce “fruit” in keeping with repentance. If they were truly sorry for their sinfulness, the fruit of faith—a fitting response—would follow. Real repentance cannot lead to smugness, complacency, or habitual repetition of the same sin.

What are some examples of actions that fit real repentance?

Some actions which fit with real repentance, John says, include sharing with those in need, not abusing your position by cheating others, and being content with what you have.

What was the final goal of John’s preaching?

John’s goal in preaching was to lead people to grasp what sin is and how bad its results are, so they could be drawn to one much greater than he. That man was Jesus, the Christ, who was destined to die for them and who would send the Holy Spirit to create this type of life in them.

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