First Baptist Church Marshallville
Wednesday, August 04, 2021
Rooted in the Past -- Growing Into Our Future

From the Under Shepherd Dec 4, 2011

Living in Hope
Second Sunday in Advent
     Mark's gospel account has no birth announcement or birth narrative, as Matthew and Luke share with us. Instead, Mark wastes no time getting to Jesus' ministry through an introduction by John the Baptist (Mark 1:2-8).
     Mark ties John to the Old Testament through a quote from two prophets, Malachi and Isaiah. John is the one "who goes before" Jesus as he prepares the way in the wilderness. Indeed, John is a man of the wilderness. Though born to a priestly family (see Luke 1:5), he evidently spent his formative years in the wilderness; for it is there that the word of God came to him (see Luke 3:2). 
     John was the first prophet in Israel in 400 years (biblically, Malachi was the last of the writing prophets; he lived in the late 5th century BC). His presence generated great excitement among the people in Judea, such that the "whole" countryside and "all" Jerusalem came to the Jordan River to hear him preach a message of repentance and to be baptized in the river. Yet John did not claim to be the long expected one, only a messenger who himself looked forward to the Messiah. He told the crowds that "one more powerful than I...will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:7-8).
     The events surrounding John--his dress, diet, place of ministry--evoked the theme of a Second Exodus for the Jewish population. Isaiah used the theme of the Exodus in the latter chapters of his book to offer hope to a defeated people. God would lead the conquered nation through the wilderness again to renew his vows with them, and to reestablish them in prominence. Each of the synoptic gospel accounts of John begins his ministry with the quote from the beginning of Isaiah's prophecies (Isaiah 40:3) about the restoration of the Lord's people.
     Thus the theme of HOPE for the second Sunday in Advent. Hope was instilled in John's audience because of the promise of long prophesied Messiah. John preached that this Messiah was just around the corner, coming soon.   When Jesus appeared for baptism, John cried out "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
     Our HOPE for eternal life--and abundant life now--lies in this same Jesus Christ. We too have a blessed hope, a hope that will not disappoint. As Jesus came once (the first Advent), he promises that he will come again to take us to a place he is preparing for us (see John 14:1-3).
     Jesus broke into history; life on Earth has not been the same. He will return; history will radically change again. Do you believe this? Then, rejoice! Celebrate Jesus!