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Third Sunday in Advent

We focus on the Gospel of the day and take our devotion from a sermon in Concordia Pulpit Resources.

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11
Psalm 126
1 Thessalonians 5:16–24
John 1:6–8, 19–28

Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.

Introduction

Just as God sent John the Baptist to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ coming, He sends us to share the Gospel with people in our lives. May He give us wisdom in this task, helping us to give all glory to Him.

Devotional Reading

John was sent from God. That’s the first thing we must say about him. John was sent. He didn’t venture out from the wilderness on his own initiative. Even before he was conceived, his sending was already a done deal. “He will go on before the Lord,” said the angel Gabriel to Zechariah, “in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk 1:17).

John was sent from God to give testimony, which is all that a witness is good for. A witness for the Lord testifies to what he has seen and heard from the Lord. His testimony is so that others will believe through him. Note that! Through him, that is, through his testimony, not in him. John was an instrument, not an object. John’s testimony was not so that people would believe in John, but that through John all people would believe in Christ. His message was not “follow me,” but “follow him.” “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” John was not the light that gives life to the world. Nor are we, though we sometimes think we’re brighter bulbs than most in the world. . . .

The church is [a] voice and a finger in today’s wilderness of sin and terror and death—a voice to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in Jesus’ name—a finger pointing to Jesus. There’s the One for you. There is your forgiveness, your life, your salvation. There is true light, a light that already shines on you and on all. There he is in the water of your Baptism. There he is in the mouth of the preacher absolving your sin. There he is in the bread that is his body, in the wine that is his blood. That’s what being a witness to Jesus means. Not pointing to me and saying, “Be religious like me.” But pointing to Jesus in the Word, the water, the bread and the wine, and testifying on his behalf: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Your sin. He died bearing your sin. He rose holding your life in his life. He reigns and in him you reign too. That’s the church’s testimony, her witness, and her martyrdom. . . .

We don’t have to hide under false identities, like some frightened witness with a death threat over our head. We don’t have to put on the fake nose and glasses of phony piety and religion. We can be ourselves, telling the truth about our sin, and even more about our Savior, the world’s Savior. Pointing people to Jesus. Look! There’s the light who shines on you!

Devotional reading is from Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 13, Part 1, Series B © 2002 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Hymn

Hymn is “Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding,” hymn 345 from Lutheran Service Book. Video © 2017 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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