The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:
Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
a voice shouting in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight.”
John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. —Mark 1:4-5
The prophet Isaiah predicted there would be one who would come to prepare the way for the Messiah. John the Baptist quoted this passage to show that he was the fulfillment of that prophecy. This preparation entailed a water purification with an emphasis on confession of sins, purifying the heart for a more true devotion to God. The Jews often baptized non-Jews who had converted to Judaism. But to baptize a Jew as a sign of repentance was a radical departure from Jewish custom. Confession was the key part of spiritual preparation.
Questions to think about:
Confession seems like a great way to prepare for something new. When do we use confession in our worship?
Why was/is water an important symbol for this type of ritual?
Can you recall a time when you apologized to someone?
What did you do prior to asking for forgiveness?
How can we use confession as a normal part of our daily discipleship?
Advent prepares us to remember and celebrate the miraculous Incarnation of Jesus. What are we doing to prepare?