Now, Don’t Judge Me

Sunday December 8th, 2019 Second Sunday of Advent (Cycle A)

Psalm 72:1-17, Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-9, Matthew 3:1-12

You could not find more Godly people than the priest Zacharias, his devout wife Elizabeth, and John their miracle baby. So, it was only natural that John would be groomed for the task of laying the groundwork for the Lord to bring peace and prosperity to the world. In fact, he was born for it! It would start with the revitalization of Jerusalem.  The Lord gave John a camel hair uniform and a mission: Get the people ready for the kingdom of heaven! He was wildly successful. Crowds from all over the region came to confess, repent, and be baptized by him. The Pharisees and Sadducees, who were always eager to parade their piety, came to be noticed by the multitude as they went to John for a dunk in the Jordan. The Baptist was having none of it and called them out on their hypocrisy. In a scathing rebuke, he sent them packing with a “get your act together” warning. There was a zero-tolerance policy on nonsense at “Brother John’s Salvation Show”. This was serious business. The King is coming! Far above John’s position, He is going to clean house, take names, bring the hammer down and woe be to you if you look like a nail! On hearing about this monarch, the astonished crowd had to wondered, “Who is this king?”

Our readings in Isaiah 11 and Psalm 72 give us a clue. He is a branch from the family of Jesse, king David’s line. He has the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of knowledge, and THE Spirit of the LORD! He will rule righteously, justly, and peace will be the hallmark of His reign. He will usher in a time of unsurpassed prosperity. He is compassionate to the downtrodden and takes up their cause. His kingdom will be worldwide. He will rule with an iron rod, and all the nations will bow down before Him.  No wonder the wisemen from the East came to Jerusalem looking for this King of the Jews. It will be a wonderful era far beyond any of our imaginations. The question is, how do we get there from here?

I think that we all agree that, to reach this eutopia, wrongs must be righted, scales balanced, and evil removed. In other words, it all starts with judgement. We cheer a God that punishes the wicked. The problem is when we fall into the cross hairs of the all-knowing judge, who sees us when we’re sleeping and knows when we’re awake. He knows if we’ve been bad…and we have. Not in the relative sense of morality use by the Pharisees, but in the perfect eyes of a Holy God who will bring every idle word into scrutiny. The irony is that the Messianic Age that we crave, where the lion lies down with the lamb, cannot be achieved with us in it. We are hopeless.

The God of love, however, has given us hope at Christmas. He became a man, and with that, a chance for us to escape our fate. Through the message of salvation in the gospel, by faith in Christ, our sins are forgiven. We can become new people with the indwelling nature of the righteous God, Himself. Then, the reality of the kingdom of heaven can start in our hearts.  Then, we can earnestly pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”  Then, our life’s focus will coincide with John’s message of preparation for that selfsame kingdom. Until that day when Jesus rules on earth, God has given us the Bible for encouragement and instruction to help us persevere through this time, as noted in our reading in Romans 15:4-9. Like the Christmas carol says, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” Receive Jesus into your heart this Advent season. Fear not. Take the hope. There’s a new world coming. Be part of it!    

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