Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Saturday after the First Sunday after the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord

Posted on January 4, 2020 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Matthew 3:1-12 (NKJV)
3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
In our final meditation of this week we turn our attention to the final prophet of the Old Testament, who is also the first prophet of the New Testament. John the Baptizer fulfills both roles. John the Baptizer and his divine mission was foretold in the Old Testament because God has everything under control and works toward the fulfillment of His holy will. John’s message of repentance is of great importance for both Old Testament and New Testament believers, for there can be no salvation without repentance. John also wore the traditional attire of Old Testament prophets so that the people and authorities knew what he was from his uniform—not unlike law enforcement or clergy today.
His work of baptism was also not something entirely new or strange. People knew the value of baptism because washings were common practice in the Old Testament and were divinely established as a means through which God bestowed blessings. Confessing their sins to John (a mere man) was not strange either, because the Levitical laws (Mosaic Law) had divinely established this as a practice.
The second half of our text presents the biblical concept of true faith bearing the fruit of repentance, for a faith without fruits and works is a dead faith. The final verse of the text points to the Second Coming of our Lord in power and glory, to deliver His holy and righteous judgment.
We pray: Heavenly Father, through Your abundant grace may we never be found compromising the true faith in our lives or among our brethren. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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