John the Baptist is in Herod’s prison and somehow John’s disciples understand that John wants to know if Jesus really was the promised messiah. John’s disciples come and ask Jesus if he is the one John is expecting. John is expecting like everyone else that Jesus will be a messiah who will arrive with great power and force and become the new king of Israel.
Jesus tells them to go back to John with the message that they have seen the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk, that lepers are cleansed and the dead are raised. Jesus is very careful in his reply because if Herod gets any kind of inkling that there is a possible new king for Israel Jesus will be in Herod’s prison too.
Jesus speaks to the crowd telling them that John the Baptist was a great prophet, a new Elijah. his message of repentance and the coming kingdom of heaven was a great one, but the time of his message was past.
Now they have the chance to be even greater than John the Baptist for the least person in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. Each person who accepts Jesus into their heart and lives out the love of God in their daily lives is recognised as great in the kingdom of God.
This is a new era says Jesus.
That is just as true today for each one of us!
Advent is a time of waiting and watching. In no way is the waiting and watching something passive. John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan river announced to the people that repentance was needed so that their lives could be reorientated into the new calling of God.
These readings about John the Baptist during Advent remind us that our baptism leads us into a whole life of active repentance and reorientation as we seek to live by kingdom values to make God known in the world.
Lord God, we thank you for the life of John the Baptist.
We thank you that he is the signpost to the repentance and reorientation needed throughout our lives.
Help us to watch and wait for the signs of your love breaking through into the lives of people we meet or read about.
Help us not to lose sight of the watching and waiting for your kingdom presence in the pre-Christmas business, that we may celebrate your love wherever we find it. Amen