2016 Advent Devotional Day 21

December 17, 2016

Morning Psalm: 55 | Evening Psalms: 138, 139 | Isaiah 10:20-27 | Jude 17-25 | Luke 3:1-9

St. John the Baptist, the last prophet of our Lord, appears in the Gospel of Luke, baptizing with a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He is an immensely popular preacher of his time and his wild demeanor (as described in the Gospel of Mark) only adds to the spectacle. Many come to him, hear his words, and are moved to repent and receive baptism. Others, however, come for some other sort of benefit. Perhaps they don’t want to miss out on being associated with the most recent prophet of the Lord, but they are not ready to receive his warning. They are not ready to “prepare the way of the Lord” (3:4).

When my son was first learning how to read, he picked up his Bible and read aloud to me: “You brood of vampires! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Try as I might, I couldn’t find a reason that would justify this translation, but the strangeness of it startled me. I can only think how startled (and offended!) the respectable, self-righteous people in John’s audience must have been when he called them a “brood of vipers” (3:7). It must have stung.

But John doesn’t simply insult them. He issues a warning. Without real repentance, it doesn’t matter what kind of spiritual pedigree one has. “Do not begin to say, ‘We have Abraham as our Father’” (3:8). Today, we Christians have our own spiritual “pedigrees” that we rely on. It may be who we were evangelized by, or where we studied theology, or what denomination we are in. But these things, even when good and valuable, are not worthy of our confidence.

Repentance is the changing of our minds; a denouncing of our former, selfish, twisted ways. Repentance is the turning from sin and toward the One who comes to free us from it. It is repentance that opens our heart to the work of Christ. In these last days of Advent, let us ask God to grant us the grace of true repentance and bring forth in us the “fruits in keeping with” (3:8) the same, so that there will be room in our hearts and in our lives for his Son.

O Come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.

Geoffrey Mackey (STM 2015)
Director of Student Affairs, Alumni, Church Relations, & Deployment
Trinity School for Ministry
Ambridge, PA

Morning Psalm: 55 | Evening Psalms: 138, 139 | Isaiah 10:20-27 | Jude 17-25 | Luke 3:1-9