Second Sunday in Advent A
Second Sunday in Advent A
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 3:2). John the Baptist delivers the first half of the sermon preached by Jesus as he went into Galilee. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15). The difference between these two preachers marks the difference between the old creation and the New Creation coming into being through Jesus Christ. Jesus named John the Baptist the greatest man born of woman. Yet, John couldn’t come close to the least in the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt. 11:11). John, like Jesus, came out of the wilderness commanding the people to repent. Scripture tells us that the people of Jerusalem, Judea, and all the surrounding regions were going out to John (cf. Mt. 3:12). Similar remarks in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke speak of the large crowds gathered around Jesus (cf. Mk. 5:24, Mt. 8:13, & Lk. 14:25). The preaching of repentance attracted them. Jesus, however, could deliver on what he preached. John the Baptist could only command repentance of the people, for as Jesus had said, “He is a man born of woman.” Jesus, in contrast, had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. As the very Word of God himself, who brought into being all that exists, Jesus could command, “Repent!” Jesus could command, “Believe!” and establish repentance where there had been only sin-hardened hearts… establish faith where there had been only resolute idolatry and unbelief. Jesus himself sends out his apostles… his preachers… who speak with that same authority… the authority of the New Creation… the authority of the Holy Spirit. Such preaching brings about repentance and belief as the Holy Spirit works them in the hearts of its hearers.
Prayers from one whose sin-hardened heart must be created anew so it can repent and believe…
My Father, who is in heaven, you sent John the Baptist as that voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord… my Lord Jesus Christ. Grant me to hear John as he points to the one greater than he who will sift the chaff and gather the grain from his threshing floor that I, too, may be numbered among those grains of wheat he gathers in. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
My Father, who is in heaven, as John the Baptist is that voice preparing the way for my Lord Jesus Christ, grant me to hear his accusation against my lack of fruit and turn me to hear the preaching of my Lord Jesus that I may know true repentance… true faith… and produce true works. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
My Father, who is in heaven, use the witness of John the Baptist to point out your Son, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, that I, too, may know the true forgiveness of sins and your forgetfulness regarding my iniquity. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
My Father, who is in heaven, John the Baptist, when the crowds demanded of him, “What shall we do?” told them to be good neighbors and honest in their vocations. Grant me such neighborliness and such vocational integrity that good fruit would be produced through me. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
My Father, who is in heaven, John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed for his unrelenting confrontation of the people, especially their rulers, with the Word of God. Grant me such preachers that I, too, would be relentlessly confronted by the Word of God. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
My Father, who is in heaven, as John the Baptist continually pointed to and witnessed to the greatness of Jesus Christ, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology would in like manner be a witness to Jesus Christ. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
My Father, who is in heaven, as John the Baptist went down to his death still awaiting the coming of his Lord in glory, grant that I, too, may wait… wait in faith, hope, and patience… for my same Lord to come in glory. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.