Devotional for the week of December 11th, 2022
Last week John the Baptist was full of religious fervor, certain in his convictions, and bold in his proclamation about the role of the coming Messiah: “Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10).
But there was no fire. There was no chopping down of anything or anyone. Jesus had arrived and his ministry had begun, but he did not come bearing the ax or winnowing fork that John had predicted. Instead, he began healing the sick, casting out demons, and spending a lot of time with the very people many thought were part of the problem. John asks on behalf of his community, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matt. 11:3).
John’s hope (and ours) is not in vain. But this Messiah’s redemption will not come in the way we expect. This Messiah is not a victor in a battle scene or a political coup. Instead, this Messiah is one who shows that greatness and strength are actually found in gentleness and service. It isn’t through fire that God saves the world; it is through God’s own sacrificial love. And the road to this love is not a victory parade, but the one that leads us humbly to a cleansing bath and a laden table.
To those who trust in wealth and power to set things right, what we do each Sunday must sound silly: gathering around old stories, singing and praying, sharing a little meal. How could any of this change anything? But for us wilderness wanderers, it is water in the desert. It is the very presence of God in our midst. Thanks be to God!
Devotional message and art based on the readings for December 11th, reprinted from sundaysandseasons.com.
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