Isaiah 11:1-10/ Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19/ Matthew 3:1-12
Preview of God’s Reign of Peace
Watching Movie Trailers
Do you like watching movies or TV shows? How do you decide which shows to watch? We can read about them, hear about them from other people, or watch the trailers to pre-view them. By watching the trailers, we can decide if the storyline or the visuals interest us. Trailers tell us what to expect from the feature films or TV shows. From the trailers that interest us, we can get excited about the prospect of watching the movies or shows. We get mentally ready to watch them. Now, I am going to show you a trailer. Let’s see if this movie seems like our cup of tea, if we want to watch it.
John the Baptist: Preview for Jesus
Christmas is about the beginning of Jesus. To make an informed decision to follow him or not, we need a preview. John the Baptist is the preview for Jesus. He came out from the desert where he had been living, and presumably, praying, and preached that “the kingdom of heaven is near.” He offered the baptism of repentance because one cannot enter God’s kingdom without renewing oneself.
The Gospel writers testify that John’s coming was foretold by the prophet Isaiah. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” They interpreted John’s purpose as the one to prepare God’s people for the coming of a greater hero, the saviour. He rebuked religious leaders for their spiritual complacency and lack of humility that is crucial to God’s kingdom. His ultimate message was, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance,” in other words, “Live out your faith.”
All this is what the ministry of Jesus would represent when he comes in the future. Therefore, God’s people of both past and present can pre-view what Jesus will be like by listening to John, like a movie trailer. He teaches us what to expect from Jesus so we can choose to follow him or not.
Isaiah’s Vision of God’s Reign
Isaiah, who allegedly foretold the coming of “the voice crying out in the wilderness” to prepare the way of the Lord painted a vision of what God’s reign would look like. This vision of God’s reign is based on righteousness, faithfulness, and judgment for the wicked. In this vision, lambs live with wolves without being harmed. Children play around venomous snakes without being harmed. These are clear analogies of a peaceful community ruled by love and equality.
Preparing for God’s Reign of Peace and Justice
As I keep pointing out, and will continue to do so in the future, peace cannot be achieved without justice. God’s reign of peace is ruled by equality for all members. Today’s psalm also praises God of justice. Advent is a preview for the story of Jesus. That is why, during Advent, we listen to stories that are in tuned with the stories of Jesus and his teachings.
During Advent, while we wait for baby Jesus, we get a taste of God’s reign of peace of which he will preach as an adult. You will also notice that the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke both represent God who wants justice for the marginalized. You will see that, in both stories, those without power, the “outsiders” are exulted and empowered. Through these stories, we know that God’s reign is a reign of peace and justice for all.
During this Season of Advent, I invite you to read the gospel stories and meet Jesus. Let us get ready for his birth by learning about God’s reign of peace and justice. Let us watch the preview of God’s reign so that we can make an informed choice to follow Jesus and live out God’s reign of peace and justice, again and anew.