Monday in the Third Week in Advent
Matthew 21:23-27 – World English Bible
23 When Jesus had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?”
They reasoned with themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all hold John as a prophet.” 27 They answered Jesus, and said, “We don’t know.”
He also said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem according to Matthew 21, he stirred up people. He arrived like a king on a donkey; then, he entered the Temple precinct and overturned the tables of the money changers. The authorities in the holy place wanted an answer to the question, “Who do you think you are? Who gave you the authority to do this?” Here, the Lord compared his prophetic power to that of the Baptist. “Tell me where John's authority came from, then I'll tell you the source of mine.” The drove the priests into a corner, so they passed on answering the inquiry. But, his argument neutered their authority compared to his. The place of the prophet trumped that of the priest.
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Tuesday in the Third Week of Advent
Matthew 21:28-32 – World English Bible
Jesus told the chief priests and the elders:
27 "What do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind, and went. 30 He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but he didn’t go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to him, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into God’s Kingdom before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him.”
In Matthew 21:23-27, the Temple leaders challenged the authority of Jesus to overturn the money changer's tables. Now, the Lord went on the attack with the parable of the Two Sons. The sinner who repented “did the will of his father” and would enter the Kingdom before the leaders, for that sinner heard the message of the Baptist. The key word here was “repentance,” basing one's spirituality on a return to God, not on one's righteousness or theological knowledge or standing in the community.
As Christmas approaches, how have you turned to God?Top of the page
Wednesday in the Third Week of Advent
Luke 7:18b-23 – World English Bible
18 The disciples of John told him about all these things. 19 John, calling to himself two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for another?” 20 When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptizer has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you he who comes, or should we look for another?’”
21 In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits; and to many who were blind he gave sight. 22 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John the things which you have seen and heard: that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 23 Blessed is he who finds no occasion for stumbling in me.”
The Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus with a question, “Are you the One?” Jesus answered with a resume taken from Isaiah 61:1-2. These few verses from the prophet were a popular description of the Messiah in the first century AD, for they were found in among the Dead Sea Scrolls (specifically scroll 4Q246). However, both Luke 7:18-23 (along with a parallel in Matthew 11:2-5) and the Qumran scroll 4Q246 added one element not found in Isaiah: raising the dead. This one difference pointed the reader towards the only two prophets in Israel's history that brought people back to life, Elijah (1 Kings 17-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:35). The Lord patterned his ministry after these great men, bringing the message of God and his power to the people of Galilee, the region where Elijah and Elisha lived. In this way, Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah.
How have you heard the message of Jesus today? How have you seen his power?Top of the page
Thursday in the Third Week of Advent
Luke 7:24-30 – World English Bible
24 When John’s messengers had departed, Jesus began to tell the multitudes about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are gorgeously dressed, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,
‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
28 “For I tell you, among those who are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptizer, yet he who is least in God’s Kingdom is greater than he.”
29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they declared God to be just, having been baptized with John’s baptism. 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God, not being baptized by him themselves.
After Jesus answered the Baptist's inquiry about his identity as the Messiah, he turned to the crowd with some rhetorical questions. What did the people expect to see in John? A reed in the Jordan River blown by the wind? A king dressed in his finest feasting in his court? Between these two extremes, he answered the inquiries with their reason. The populace went into the desert to see a prophet, one to fulfill Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, behold, he comes!” says YHWH of Armies. (World English Bible) The Baptist would precede the Christ, acting as his advance man, to proclaim the coming Kingdom. Yet, the messenger did not stand above the blessed who entered into God's realm. In his eyes, those who repented were greater than the preacher of repentance. John acted as the porter to the Kingdom, but the reformed would actually experience the Kingdom.
How have you heard the words of John today?Top of the page
Friday in the Third Week of Advent
John 5:33-36 – World English Bible
Jesus said to the leaders:
33 “You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony which I receive is not from man. However, I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John, for the works which the Father gave me to accomplish, the very works that I do, testify about me, that the Father has sent me.”
In John's gospel, the Baptist was a witness to the Messiah. Like a witness in a court proceeding, he testified to the truth, the character of the person he told about and the veracity of acts that person performed.. In John 1, the Baptist came to speak of the “light,” who the evangelist referred to as the “Word.” Now, Jesus described the Baptist himself in terms of a glowing light, a life that would soon come to an end. But the testimony of the Baptist's light would be overshadowed by the Lord's testimony about the “works the Father sent him to perform.” These works and the Baptist's words pointed toward Jesus as the Christ, the One the Father sent into the world to save that very world.
How have you testified to Christ today?Top of the page