The Joy of the Lord
3rd Sunday of Advent
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
December 15, 2019
Readings: Isaiah 35: 1-10
James 5: 7-10
Matthew 11: 2-11
Christ was born in Bethlehem. He came with a purpose, leaving the very Throne of God and taking the form of man so that He may redeem us. That event took place a long long time ago. We celebrate Christmas to remind ourselves of what He has done. Man was given new life because of His finished work on the cross. It is amazing why that in spite of all that He has done for us we still live in poverty of the spirit when we should be living in joy, He has commissioned us to be His ambassadors, His representation to continue His work today.
It tells us in the New Testament that John the Baptist was imprisoned because he spoke the truth. He did not try to be “politically correct.” He preached it like it is. He told the people what God wanted Him to say. Having heard the things that Jesus was doing, he sent some of his followers to ask Jesus, “are you the One we are looking for?” The Lord’s reply was; “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…. And a highway will be there; It will be called the Way of Holiness. It will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it. Wicked fools will not go about on it…only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return.” (Isaiah 35)
There are two messages here:
1) It shows us the work of the Messiah
2) And what we are to do
As His representation, we are to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead. We are not the weak. We are the strong. We are not downtrodden, we are the victorious. We are overcomers. The greatest celebration of Christmas is living the life of Christ and being powerful witnesses of His life. Christ set a pattern. There will be a highway and it will be smooth without the obstructions. There may be oppositions, and we may face problems. But we have overcome these things because we have the joy. Christ came to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. This is why we should have this imagery that God intends for us to have. To have the joy, the confidence and the security. Things may come against us but we are able to maintain the joy. Christ came to show us who we are, and Advent is to awaken us.
James 5 :7 – “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the Autumn and Spring rains.”
The farmer plants a seed and waits patiently for the soil to produce. He takes care of the soil and nurtures it. When planted properly, it will produce fruit. In our lives, we are the soil. If we don’t plant good seeds, if we don’t plant the things of God in our lives, other things will be brought forth that are not valuable. We should take care and nurture the soil so that it will produce good fruit.
We are the instruments of God to set man free. This is why we should renew our minds to realize who we are, and the great potential given to us by God. Jesus said in Luke 7: 29; “ I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John, yet the one who is the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
John had one mission and that is to prepare man to be in the kingdom of God. He had the anointing to do this. We should seek God, get on the highway and clear the way. We should be able to do great things because we are not weak.
Isaiah 52 – “Awake, awake, Zion, cloth yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendor, Jerusalem, the holy city…Shake off your dust; rise up. Sit enthroned Jerusalem.”
Like a performer who spends hours and hours of practicing and preparing that which he will be performing, he is willing to sacrifice, and work towards excellence so that his performance is perfect. And his audience is pleased with the outcome. We should be willing to sacrifice and work hard to achieve excellence in the things we do for God because if we do, we will receive the joy of God and His approval. There is joy in Him when He sees that we are greater than the enemy and this blesses Him.
Hebrews 12:2 – Fixing our eyes unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We should bring joy to God – that He is pleased with what we have done. We have received the blessings of God and should be walking in this love. I’m walking on the new road on the highway. No one is going to take away our joy. We should remind ourselves that Christmas has already come.