Peace be with you!
Radicals: Individuals who make nonsense claims in the name of change and social advancements. Their ideas are way out there, based on the norm of the day, and they insist on pushing the envelope.
Each generation has its own radicals. Martin Luther and his Ninety-Five Theses called for radical changes within the Catholic Church. The beloved Martin Luther King, Jr. pushed for equality for African Americans. His “I Have a Dream” speech rings true in our minds today, but during the Civil Rights Movement, King was speaking against the “normal.” Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple Inc., was a radical for dreaming that every family be able to have a personal computer one day. He dreamed this in the 1980’s, when computers were as big as rooms.
And then there is John the Baptist in today’s gospel reading with the proclamation of salvation for all. John the Baptist preaches in the wilderness to prepare the way for the Lord, so that everyone can experience God’s salvation. The wilderness has negative connotations in the Bible as a place that is barren and lonely, but it also has positive connotations as a place people go when change is about to happen. God has a new plan for his people that pushes the envelope on the “normal” way things are done. The fact that John the Baptist is the wilderness draws attention away from the Jewish temples and synagogues and into the unknown. The wilderness is a forbidden place where people wander around aimlessly and in confusion. Yet God sends John the Baptist out into the wilderness with a new message for his people: salvation for all.
John the Baptist in the wilderness is calling people to experience God, to get to know him, to be in a relationship with God, and to repent of their sins for the chance of a lifetime – a chance to experience salvation. Honestly, you have to admit that if John the Baptist was a traditional priest like his father, he would gone unnoticed. The high priests probably would have imprisoned him for going against their traditional teachings. But John the Baptist is in our face calling us into the wilderness to experience God: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:4b-6 NRSV, italics added for emphasis). John the Baptist says to us, “Make way for the Lord. The lame will walk, the poor will be fed, and the sinner will be forgiven. All who repent will be able to experience salvation.” Jesus Christ is coming; he wants to enter our hearts and fill us with joy and happiness, if we let him.
John the Baptist’s radical message is not just for those along the Jordon River two thousand years ago; it is for us today as well. Salvation is for all people, no matter their age, skin color, number of tattoos and piercings, education, cash flow, etc. John the Baptist says Jesus Christ, the Messiah, meets us where we are in our lives, either high on a mountain or deep in a cavern. Jesus is coming. Are you ready?
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for preparing our hearts to meet Jesus. Help us to repent of our sins and prepare the way of the Lord. Thank you for Jesus’ salvation. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What do you need to repent of this Advent season?
2. How have you seen God use barren places in your life to bring change and renewal?