13 December 2020 (Advent Third Sunday Morning Prayer) Isaiah 12
We meditated about the second Advent of Jesus Christ during the first two Advent Sundays. We will remember the first Advent of Jesus Christ on the third and fourth Advent Sundays. Prophet Isaiah prophesised to the tribes of Israel during 760-700BC. When the Israelites sinned and turned away from their LORD God, Jehovah, Isaiah’s prophecies were a wake-up call to the Israelites to turn to God. He prophesised about the advent of Jesus from the Tribe of Judah.
Today’s meditation is based on our Old Testament reading from Isaiah 12. The first verse of the chapter starts with ‘And in that day’. The phrase is repeated in the 4th verse. Which day is referred to here? What will happen on that day? The Day mentioned in the verse refers to the first Advent of Jesus Christ. In Chapter 11, Isaiah prophesised about the Advent of Jesus. In continuation, in chapter 12 we read the praises sung by those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah. They praise Him because God turned His anger away and comforted His people. He sent His only Son to bring them salvation. For those who trusted in Him, the Lord Jehovah is their strength, song and salvation. Because He came, those who trust and accept Jesus can draw water out of the wells of salvation.
When Jesus was born, did anybody accept Jesus as Messiah? Let us look at a few people who lived during that time:
Jews: The Jews were waiting for Messiah to come and save them from their enemies. When Jesus was born, the Jews did not sing praises to God because they did not accept Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus did not meet their expectations about Messiah and they rejected Him.
John the Baptist: We know that John came to prepare the way for Jesus. He was related to Jesus. John knew his calling and went about Jordan, preaching and preparing the way for Jesus. He knew that he “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light”. He knew that Jesus would come and what he had to do before Jesus’s ministry. He had a strong conviction of his vision and mission. But when he was in the prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Jesus, ‘Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?’ John accepted Jesus as the Messiah but when he was in a tough situation, he had his doubts.
People: In Matthew 16:13 the disciples said, ‘Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.’ Some people accepted Jesus was John the Baptist while others saw Him as a prophet.
Simon Peter: Jesus asked His disciples who He was. Simon Peter said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Simon Peter accepted Jesus as the Son of the living God but we know that he denied him before Jesus’s crucifixion.
Herod: In Matthew and Mark gospels we read that Herod said Jesus was John the Baptist who had risen from the dead.
The people who lived during that time and interacted with Jesus saw Him differently. They saw Him as a prophet, Christ or John the Baptist. A small minority of people accepted Him because of the miracles and signs that He performed.
We can understand the reason behind John’s doubt and question to Jesus. But ‘Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.’ Jesus did not give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer here. John was having a tough time in the prison and was expecting some assurance. He needed proof to accept the answer from Jesus. As John knew all the prophecies about Jesus’s calling and about Jesus’s vision, Jesus gave him this reply. John could compare what was happening with what the prophecies said.
The Jews were expecting Messiah to deliver them. They expected physical liberation from their enemies, but Jesus came into this world and offered them spiritual salvation. He offered their souls deliverance from death. God the Father sent Jesus to purify the whole world from sin and for them to inherit everlasting life.
John was in trouble and in prison, but he did not get any help from Jesus who had come to deliver the people. John might have expected Jesus to come and deliver him from the prison and from the hand of Herod. But there is no account of Jesus even visiting John in the prison. That might have made John question Jesus about the Messiah.
Jesus came to fulfil His Father’s will in the world. He came to liberate people from their sins and save them from eternal death. But because the expectation of the people was different from what Jesus had to offer, they did not accept him. As they did not accept Him, they did not sing praises to the Father for their salvation.
Today, how are we seeing Jesus? What is our expectation about Jesus? Jesus is willing to offer what is required in our lives, not what we expect. Are we willing to accept what he offers and praise Him for it? Jesus came into this world so that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. Prophet Isaiah prophesized in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”.
When we are in trouble and do not have deliverance or answer to our prayers, we ask many questions to God. Jesus is the same all the time, but during tough times, how do we see Jesus? Do we see Him as the Messiah who can deliver us? Are we seeing Him through our spiritual eyes as the redeemer who came to save the world from sin? Or are we seeing him as a redeemer who works miracles based on our needs and expectations? What are we thinking about Jesus? Are we believing Jesus as our personal saviour? When we have questions, who are we turning to? John did not ask others about Jesus. Instead he sent his disciples directly to Jesus. Jesus expects us to look to Him for answers. Jesus has the answer to all our questions. If we were in John’s place, it will be more frustrating and confusing when we do not get a definite answer. But the Word of God has answers to all our questions and will help us to overcome our doubts.
The most important point to note here is that the people sang praises because they accepted Jesus as the Messiah. On that day when the second Advent happens, will we sing praises to God because He is our salvation? We can sing praises to God if we accept Jesus as He is. If we focus on Jesus with our spiritual eyes, He is the Messiah who came to this world to redeem us with His blood so that we can inherit eternal life. This life in the world is for a few years but our eternal life is for eternity. During this Advent season let us prepare ourselves and the way for others to sing praises for eternity. Amen!