God Provides Messengers and Means to Prepare Us for the End.
These are the Scripture readings for the Second Sunday in Advent.
God’s Word for This Week
God doesn’t leave us to flounder on our own in this world but prepares us for the final great event—Jesus’ return at the end. He sends his messengers to point out the reality of sin and its consequences so we don’t drift into complacency. He sends his good news of salvation in Christ and connects us with him in baptism. What a change that should create in our focus for living!
First Lesson – Isaiah 40:1-11
How will the people receive “double” for all their sins?
God was not going to punish them twice as hard as they deserve. Instead they would receive “double” grace—much more blessing than anyone could expect. This is not something that can be earned, but what we inherit by his free grace—a full forgiveness we don’t deserve.
Who is the “voice of one calling in the desert to prepare a way for the Lord?”
The Lord makes it clear (Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3 and Luke 3:4) that this is pointing ahead to the person of John the Baptist. He was the voice who preached stern and pointed law to the people to prepare their hearts with repentance. And he was the one who preached the sweet gospel as he pointed out the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This is the good news we are also to shout out to people—a word that will outlast worldly “experts.”
Second Lesson – 2 Peter 3:8-14
“With the Lord a day is like a 1000 years and a 1000 years like a day.” What does that have to do with this reading?
We are bound to clocks and passing schedules. But God is not restrained by time, which he created for us. He sees and knows all things as if they were “now.” The end of the world may seem like a long ways away for scoffers, but God sees it clearly as “today” and patiently opens opportunities all over the world to come to repentance and avoid perishing eternally at that time.
Knowing that the Lord will come suddenly and destroy the earth, what change should be evident in our lives?
It should be evident in our lives that we are looking forward in Christ to the transition into heaven. Every effort should be made to be at peace with God realized by faith in Christ. Every effort should be made to live lives that represent the holiness he has destined us for.
Gospel – Mark 1:1-8
What was the focus of John’s baptisms?
John baptized with a focus on the reality of our sinfulness and the forgiveness God gives us in the Lamb of God—Jesus. This is the same focus you hear from Peter on Pentecost as he sets the pace for our baptisms.
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit?” What was to be different?
Although true baptism always carries the Holy Spirit’s presence, Jesus carries the full authority to send the Spirit in a miraculous way as was first evidenced at Pentecost. It is Christ who gives baptism its power.