Advent Cousins

December 5th, 2010 Posted in writing

Cousins in preaching as well as blood, John the Baptist and Jesus shared the expectation that the Kingdom of God was quickly coming and that people needed to prepare for it. But they seemed to have had different ideas of what the Kingdom would be like.

John the Baptist’s words indicate that he thought the Messiah would be very much like himself and the other prophets of Israel. That is, the Messiah would announce God’s judgment and punishment on Israel’s oppressors and those Jews who had failed to be faithful to God. As John put it, when he came the Messiah would “baptize with fire.”

Jesus, on the other hand, seldom talked about punishment, and when he did, as in his parable of the Last Judgment, the criterion of judgment was whether a person had been compassionate to others. Instead, Jesus preached more about God’s forgiveness and told his followers that they should try to be like God by being forgiving of others, too. He was gentle enough that little children felt easily at home with him and he even said of himself that he had come to serve others and not be served.

As we enter the second week of Advent, we might want to spend some time asking ourselves which kind of Messiah we are drawn to and why.

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