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December 24 – A frequently forgotten advent figure: John the Baptist

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” – John1:29

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” – Matthew 3:2,8

Scripture reading: Matthew 3:1-12

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Pictures of peace and tranquility likely come to mind — perhaps that of a silent and holy night where all is calm and all is bright. So why consider John the Baptist? Didn’t he wear clothes made of camel’s hair, eat locusts and wild honey, and preach rather unsettling sermons? Yes, indeed. But despite his unusual personality and unpopular message, he is a very important Advent figure.

John was born as little as six months before Jesus. As the last Old Testament prophet, he announced Christ’s arrival with a declaration that contained a Passover connection: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). But John suddenly switches his focus to Jesus’ second coming. The fire John speaks about is not the warm glow of Christmas candlelight. The axe is not used for chopping down Christmas trees. John is speaking about the eternal fires of hell and the axe God will use to cut down the wicked. Then, like a parent who says, “I’m sick of hearing you say you’re sorry. Show me you are sorry,” John calls us to bear fruit that shows our repentance and faith is genuine.

We ought not to forget John the Baptist during the Advent season. By reminding us of the wrath of God that will be revealed at Jesus’ second coming, John enables us to properly appreciate what Jesus came to do in His first coming: He bore God’s wrath on the cross to give us peace with God.

Suggestions for prayer

Confess your sins, include your half-hearted ‘sorries’, to God. Ask for assurance that through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, this forgiveness has indeed been granted, God’s wrath has been removed, and you have peace with God. Also, thank Jesus for His promise that all who abide in Him will bear much fruit (John 15:5).

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God DevotionalRev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015.

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