Third Sunday in Advent

Christ’s Coming Brings God’s Deliverance

These are the readings for the Third Sunday in Advent.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)

God’s Word for This Week

The coming of Christ in history and his return at the end of time proclaim the good news of God’s mighty deliverance. Our hearts rejoice as we hear Isaiah describe our deliverance. James tempers our joyful anticipation of our Lord’s return with patience as we undergo daily trials. We take comfort in Jesus’ words of consolation to John the Baptist. Jesus is God’s chosen deliverer.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 35:1-10

Where had the Israelites seen the “glory of the Lord” years before?

When the Lord led his chosen people out of Egypt, the “glory of the Lord” appeared as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God was delivering his people from the captivity they faced in Egypt. Here Isaiah says that people will see the glory of the Lord when he comes to deliver his people from their sins.

How does God’s deliverance affect his children’s attitude? (See 35:10.)

Isaiah says that God’s children will enter Jerusalem with singing. Joy and gladness follow. For us who live in a sad world because of sin and its effects, we have an attitude change—thanks to our gracious God’s deliverance.

Supplemental First Lesson – Job 1:6-22

How does the account of Job show us that things in God’s kingdom are not always what they seem?

In the second lesson, James points to Job as an example of perseverance in the face of suffering and God’s resulting blessing. To Satan, it appeared that Job served God because he was blessed. That was not so. After great suffering and tremendous loss, it appeared to everyone else that Job had absolutely no reason to praise God. That was not so either. Job knew that for the children of God, things are not always what they seem. He had the patience to wait for the rain—to wait for God to make fruitful again the fallow parts of his life.

Second Lesson – James 5:7-11

In what way is a believer waiting for Jesus’ coming like a farmer?

James says the Lord’s coming is near. Yet we wait for him to come. The farmer knows every spring that fall is near, but he still has to wait for it to arrive.

How does the account of Job remind us of the Lord’s compassion and mercy?

While most of us recognize the name Job and remember the hard times he faced, we may not remember how that account ended. Read Job 42:12-17 for an example of God’s compassion and mercy.

Gospel – Matthew 11:2-11

How could John the Baptist have doubts or be confused about the identity of the Messiah?

Things were not what they seemed. John languished in prison for preaching righteousness. When he saw the works of Jesus, questions arose in his mind and doubt filled the hearts of his followers. John knew that Jesus was the Christ, but where were the acts of judgment promised? Why did John look like a failure and the wicked look like they were winning? John sends his disciples to the right place—to Jesus. When we take our doubts and questions to Jesus, he drives the darkness from our hearts and fills us with light. Jesus pointed to his works as signs from God fulfilling the words of the prophet and marking him as the coming one. Jesus was far more than he appeared to be—he was the Messiah who makes the blind see, the dead live, and the poor evangelized.

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