While pondering today’s scripture texts, I considered how this text fits within the season of advent, a time when we remember the birth of Christ and anticipate his return. In this text, Christians are impatiently waiting for Christ’s return.
The impatience with waiting is one we can appreciate! During this season of advent, we can hear children moan, Christmas will never get here! Adults may eagerly look forward to seeing dear friends or family during the holidays and feel the same way.
Impatience with waiting has a long history with God’s people. The ancient Israelites complained about when the Messiah would come. They had been in Exile and waiting for many centuries since the Prophets had foretold that a Messiah would come to restore Israel to its former glory. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people cried through the Prophets and the psalms: O Lord, how long must we wait?
The Jewish ascetic, John the Baptist, prepared the way for Jesus’s arrival by proclaiming that the coming of the Messiah was soon. He baptized Believers as a sign of their repentance, of God’s forgiveness and of their redemption. John was a rough character. He dressed in scratchy camel’s hair instead of soft clothing, ate locusts instead of fine food, and lived in the wilderness among wild animals instead of in a house in a village. The purpose of John’s prophesy was to prepare the world for the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah.
John’s life was devoted to holy living and fulfilling his mission as a herald for the Messiah. While the Jews were crying: Lord, how long must we wait? John the Baptist was proclaiming: prepare yourselves for the arrival of the Lord!