Reflections: Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10

Daily Lectionary:Isaiah 29:1-14; Jude 1-25

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:10 ESV)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Isaiah the prophet writes of the desert; a wasteland, dry and barren with burning sand.  But a vivid and accurate picture of the desert isn’t the only thing Isaiah writes about; He writes about the people who are weak, with feeble knees, anxious hearts, and blind eyes; Isaiah writes of bodies that are lame and tongues that are mute.  Isaiah gets it, and knows what life is like, not just in the real desert of his homeland, but writes of the world we live in and the desert that IT really is.  More than that; Isaiah writes that here in this wilderness of sin we are prisoners.

Many of us don’t know much about having to scavenge for food or about having to walk for miles to find water but we Christians, in our day, certainly do know something about the arid, hot, and angry winds that still blow in this land that we sojourn through.  Friends who backbite, gossip, hatred online, bullies and the strain that goes with confessing Christ Crucified. The weakness, feeble knees, anxious hearts, blind eyes, bodies that are lame, and tongues that are mute are not just a thing of the past. They’re real today; really real for you and for me.

Our text from Isaiah 35:10 is a definitive conclusion; a promise for you and me of gladness and joy.  Before that conclusion though Isaiah reminds us that there is comfort, strengthening, and compassion even in the midst of the wilderness wandering.  He… that is, Jesus comes to you just as He did for Isaiah and all those who know the sting of the wilderness.  He comes to abide with you, comfort you, and still your anxious hearts. Jesus comes to save you from sin, death, and the Devil, but also to save you from despair, anxiousness and fear today; to save you from hunger and thirst and to save you from, and comfort you in, your wilderness wandering.  What about this saving that Jesus does?  Isaiah says Jesus pays a ransom, that is, Jesus buys you back (the fancy theological word is redeems) at a great price, both because of Who Jesus is and because of how much He loves to love you; your life ransomed (bought back) by Jesus blood. Jesus comes smack dab into the middle of this desert wilderness of ours to give you joy, for today. But even better than that; Isaiah says this joy Jesus gives is everlasting, never-ending, forever and ever joy that will replace sorrow and sighing.  The whole desert will rejoice with joy and singing; like water breaking forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert, the burning sands become a pool; it’s all around us, as close as the Divine Service, the waters of baptism, the body and blood that He still gives and the word He puts right into your ears.  

 In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Yea her sins our God will pardon, blotting out each dark misdeed; all that well deserved His anger He no more will see or heed.  She hath suffered many a day now her griefs have passed away; God will change her pining sadness into ever-springing gladness. LSB 347 Comfort, Comfort Ye my people (St. 2)

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Harrison Goodman.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.

-Pastor Adam DeGroot is Pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Rio Rancho, New Mexico..