<<Lesson 8                        

Nine Lessons for Christmas

 

9.     John the Baptist

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

 

In those days John the Baptist appeared,

preaching in the desert of Judea

[and] saying,

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

 

It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:

“A voice of one crying out in the desert,

‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

 make straight his paths.’ ”

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  MT 3:1-3

  

Lesson 9

 

We are called to prepared for the coming of Jesus

 

Repent: the Baptist calls for a change of heart and conduct, a turning of one’s life from rebellion to obedience towards God. 

 

The kingdom of heaven is at hand: “heaven” (lit., “the heavens”) is a substitute for the name “God” that was avoided by devout Jews of the time out of reverence.  The expression “the kingdom of heaven” occurs only in the gospel of Matthew. It means the effective rule of God over his people. In its fullness it includes not only human obedience to God’s word, but the triumph of God over physical evils, supremely over death. I n the expectation found in Jewish apocalyptic, the kingdom was to be ushered in by a judgment in which sinners would be condemned and perish, an expectation shared by the Baptist.  This was modified in Christian understanding where the kingdom was seen as being established in stages, culminating with the parousia of Jesus.

 

Prayer

 

Grant your faithful, almighty God,

the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ

with good deeds at his coming,

so that, gathered at his right hand,

they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom.

 

Amen.