This week’s readings recall when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, entered the Temple and began to teach. Jesus’ authority to do this was questioned by the chief priests and elders and the Lord compared His prophetic power to that of the Baptist. “Tell me where John’s authority came from, then I’ll tell you the source of mine.” His argument neutered their authority compared to His.
Next, the Lord went on the attack with the parable of the Two Sons. The sinner who repented “did the will of his father” and would enter the Kingdom before the leaders, for that sinner heard the message of the Baptist. Jesus told them that tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before them. The key word here was “repentance” basing one’s spirituality on a return to God, not on one’s righteousness or theological knowledge or standing in the community.
As Christmas approaches, how might we better our “return to God” as we journey to the manger?
The Baptist would precede the Christ, acting as His advance man, to proclaim the coming Kingdom. In John’s gospel, the Baptist was a witness to the Messiah. Like a witness in a court proceeding, he testified to the truth, the character of the person he spoke about and the veracity of acts that person performed. In John 1, the Baptist came to speak of the “light,” who the evangelist referred to as the “Word.” Now, Jesus described the Baptist himself in terms of a glowing light, a life that would soon come to an end. But the testimony of the Baptist’s light would be overshadowed by the Lord’s testimony about the “works the Father sent Him to perform.” These works and the Baptist’s words pointed toward Jesus as the Christ; the One the Father sent into the world to save that very world.