It had been over 400 years since a prophet had arisen in Israel. Great expectations had given way to routine resignation as the final words of Malachi remained unfulfilled. But then God sent John the Baptist to announce that the Messiah had finally arrived. John’s mission was to proclaim a message of repentance that would prepare people for his Master - the Savior who comes to us today through the pages of Scripture that we might be baptized with his Holy Spirit and live for his glory.
Child prodigies who are gifted in music, math, or athletics are often identified very young, but none are identified at birth. When Jesus was born, the host of heaven and multiple prophets proclaimed that He was no ordinary child, but the promised Savior and Redeemer sent by God. Through the testimony of Scripture, we, too, stand in awe of the One who was Lord at His birth and who both saves and sends us by His grace.
The pride of thinking they knew better than God was the root of Adam and Eve’s first sin and it continues to be the root of our sin each day. Only a Savior who was born in humility, lived in humility, and died in humility is able to atone for the sin of our pride and enable us to live graciously before God and one another.
There were a variety of responses to the announcement of Jesus’ birth. King Herod responded with murderous rage. Priest Zachariah responded with skeptical doubt. Joseph responded with thoughts of divorce. But a poor, teenage girl from Nazareth responded with faithful submission. When presented with the Word of the Lord, she obediently reflected her Savior who would later say, “Thy will be done” supremely on the cross. Luke reminds us that the birth of our Lord calls us to not only rejoice, but to submit our lives to the One who first gave His life for us.
Most people come and go without notice. Really important people have a herald announce them a minute before they arrive. As the time came for Jesus to be born, God sent a mighty angel from heaven, to the center of His temple, over a year in advance, to announce the birth of the one who would announce the ministry of the Lord Jesus. What a great King Luke prepares us for! And Jesus is the King who not only proclaims His salvation to us, but who calls us to be His heralds to the nations.
Whether you are a believer, a skeptic, or are still deciding, doubt affects us all. Is Jesus really who He said He was? Did He really do all those miracles? Is He truly the only way to God? By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke wrote a detailed, orderly, historical account so that we might know the certain truth about Jesus Christ. He is the seeking Savior who sacrificed Himself so that in Him we might stand firm in shaky times.
Short-term struggles become insurmountable without long-term hope. God assured the believers of Malachi’s day that despite their immediate suffering, the day was coming when both His justice and His mercy would be fully revealed. In the meantime, we are anchored by His word and His promises that testify to our ultimate Prophet who is sure to return, Jesus Christ.
If stealing from your neighbor can land you in jail, what are the consequences of stealing from God? Malachi says it results in a wandering heart, an oblivious mind, and the curse of His displeasure. Yet despite our chronic theft of His gifts and glory, God continues to call us to Himself through the Savior who became poor so that we might become rich in Him.
When the Lord Jesus returns in glory His splendor will have an irreversible effect on sin: it will judge unrepentant sin and purify the sin of those who have fled to Him for grace. But the Lord Jesus has already come once in the flesh and is presently purifying His Church, even as He warns unbelievers of the coming judgment. How happy are those who know His cleansing grace in this life and give Him all the glory!
Since the Garden of Eden, marriage has been identified as a strategic blessing from God and thus has been under siege by the enemy. He relentlessly seeks to marginalize, redefine, poison, and destroy it. Worst of all, our own faithlessness toward one another proceeds from, and contributes to, our faithlessness toward God. We need a Savior who can break the siege and have one in Jesus Christ. God’s prefect Bridegroom is able to redeem His faithless bride for His Father’s glory and our eternal good.