Advent Reading: John 3:30

Promise Made | As the Old Testament prophetic period was closing, God called Israel to anticipate His coming victory (“the day of the Lord”): “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” [1]. Thus, His judgment would be preceded by His mercy – preached by Elijah.

Promise Kept | Before the birth of John the Baptist, an angel said concerning him: “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit … and he will go before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children … to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” [2]. Then, throughout his preaching and baptizing ministry, John recognized that some people would be tempted to think that he was the promised Messiah. Thus, he repeatedly said things like – “I am not the light”, “I am not the Christ”, “I am not the Prophet”, “I am not worthy to untie the shoes of the Messiah” [3]. Instead, as he explained, he was only the forerunner [4]. Therefore, when he met Jesus, he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” [5].

Promise Meant | There remains a final fulfillment of the promise, however, because the final day of the Lord is yet to come [6]. Therefore, like John the Baptist, we are called to testify about the return of Christ. In the ways that we speak about him and represent ourselves to others, we must be faithful to the truth and say things like John said – “We are not the light; Christ alone is the light”, “We cannot save anyone; Christ alone can save.” In everything we do and say, we must point to him, not ourselves.

Prayer | Lord, Today, in your great mercy, you are calling all people to repent and turn their hearts to you. Yet, we confess that oftentimes we get too caught up in our daily affairs and, as a result, we forget that we are called to be a part of extending your present call of mercy to all people. Forgive us, therefore, and cause us to repeat the words of John: He must increase, but I must decrease[7]. Amen.



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[1] Mal. 4:4-6 ESV  |  [2] Luke 1:15-17 ESV  |  [3] See Jn. 1:8, 20, 21, 27 ESV (not exact quotations). Note: Although John also said that he was not Elijah, he meant in a real, physical sense – which is correct. Rather, as Luke mentioned, he came in the spirit and power of Elijah.  | [4] Jn. 3:28-30 ESV  |  [5] Jn. 1:29 ESV  |  [6] In Revelation, there are two witnesses that make one last call to repent and prepare for the coming, final judgment. One of these is almost certainly the final Elijah because he has “the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall,” just as the first Elijah did (Rev. 11:3-12).  |  [7] Jn. 3:30 ESV