Preparing the Way

Third Sunday of Advent | December 15, 2019

Isaiah 35:1-10 • Psalm 146:5-10 • James 5:7-10 • Matthew 11:2-11

John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    and he will prepare your way before you.’

11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!

Matthew 11:2-11 New Living Translation (NLT)


Our gospels readings during Advent continue to focus on John the Baptist. The reading comes from the gospel of Matthew. John the Baptist wants to know if Jesus is really the Messiah or if they should be looking for someone else. John has been put in prison. Is Jesus really the Messiah? Will Jesus really be the One to bring freedom to the captives?

I love what Jesus tells the disciples of John:

“Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

Matthew 11:4b-6

Jesus knows there are questions – questions about who John the Baptist is – questions about who He is. A crowd was gathered when John’s disciples asked Jesus that question. He asked them, who they thought they were going to see when they went to the wilderness to hear John preach. John was a prophet – he was one who was proclaiming the Word of the Lord. He was preaching the repentance of sins. John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus – he is the messenger before Jesus and he is preparing the way.

The Kingdom of God is in need of workers to advance his work. Those who are advancing the Kingdom are even greater than John the Baptist. That is high praise. We are called to advance the Kingdom of God and prepare the way for Jesus. The is a job for every believer.

The season of Advent is a season of preparation. We are to be preparing ourselves and others for the arrival of Jesus. His arrival will be soon!

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