Sunday (December 17): The Lord has clothed me with the garments of salvation and righteousness

Meditation: Do you know the favor of the Lord? Every 50 years the people of Israel were commanded to celebrate a Year of Jubilee - a year of favor by the Lord (Leviticus 25:10-12). God did not want his people to forget all the blessings and favors he had shown them over the years. Isaiah prophesied in a year of Jubilee that God would send his anointed one to bring his people back from their time of exile (Isaiah 61). The anointed one would bring good news (the same word as "gospel") - news of freedom for those who were oppressed by sin, darkness, despair, and brokenness (Isaiah 61:1-2).

John humbly recognized that his calling came from God and not from man
When John the Baptist announced the imminent coming of God's Anointed One, the Messiah, the religious leaders questioned his authority to speak so boldly in God's name. They asked him bluntly, "Who are you?" and "What do you say about yourself?" They wanted to know if he was really sent by God. Did he claim to be the Messiah or one of the great prophets who was expected to return and announce the Messiah's arrival (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15)? John had no doubt and no mistaken identity about his call and mission. In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to get ready for the arrival of the greatest Ruler of all, God's anointed King and Messiah.

John's identity and our identity is derived from God's Son - Jesus Christ
John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus and who announces his mission to the people: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29). John saw from a distance what the Messiah would come to accomplish - our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father. Do you recognize who you are in Christ? The Lord Jesus has come to restore us to friendship with God and he has made us citizens of heaven - his everlasting kingdom of peace and justice.

Do you point others to Jesus Christ - the one true Lord and Savior of the world?
John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, the true Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his mission: Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word. Do you point others to Jesus Christ by the example and witness of your life?

"Lord Jesus, make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Help me to be a faithful witness of the joy of the Gospel and to point others to you as John did through his testimony."


This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/