2nd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11 II:
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger
before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the
Lord, make his paths straight--"
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of
repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5 And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people
of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing
6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle
around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.
7 And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I,
the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy
- (v.1) In only one other place of Mark's Gospel does a human being proclaim
that Jesus is Son of God: the centurion who put Jesus to death in 15:39.
According to Mark, no one else would recognize Jesus' true identity while
living with him and witnessing his powerful teaching and healing.
- (v.3) It was through the terrible wilderness that God led Israel out of the
slavery in Egypt in the original Exodus; and it was also through the dreaded
wilderness that God brought Israel out of Babylonian exile in the second
Exodus. John's appearance as the voice in the wilderness is the sign that
in the wilderness God is about to renew his covenant with Israel.
- (v.5) "... ALL the country of Judea, and ALL the people of Jerusalem ..."
conveys an excitement that must have been experienced by those who heard
John preach. Their conversion is described in a threefold manner: First,
they "went out to him", to return to the "wilderness". Second, they undergo
the ritual of baptism as the sign demonstrating their inner repentance. And
third, they confess their sins.
- (v.6) The arrival of John himself had been announced: he is the messenger
(Malachi 3:1) and the wilderness prophet (Is 40:3). Like the prophet Elijah,
John is clothed with a leather belt and the hairy garment of a prophet. This
continues the allusion to John as the God-sent messenger-Elijah who will
prepare the way of Jesus and thus enhances Mark's portrayal of John as the
expected Elijah figure.
One Main Point
John calls the people of his time - and calls us, as well - to repentance
for the forgiveness of sins. The main emphasis, however, is on the
proclamation of Jesus as the one to come who surpasses John and whose
baptism surpasses John's.
- Have you ever had to wait to receive "word" about something? What
emotions did you experience as you waited?
- Were John to appear with this message today, what one place would you
choose for him to declare it?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community