Lord God, we praise You that You keep all Your promises. Above all, we thank You for the gift of Your Son Jesus whose way Malachi prophesied and John prepared. Help us to respond to this gift with great joy. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Scripture: Malachi 3.1
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
Today’s reading comes from the book of Malachi. The identity of this prophet is unknown and many scholars indicate that this book is not named after the prophet but rather comes from this verse. The words translated as “my messenger” come from the Hebrew word “Malachi.” So the author of the book of Malachi may well have had this name or because this verse is so important to this short book and so important in salvation history the book and the unknown author have simply become known as “my messenger.”
This verse comes from the Old Testament lesson for the third Sunday in Advent and was chosen because of its fulfillment in the person and work of John the Baptizer. Clearly John comes to prepare the way of the Lord, but even more to the point of the prophesy the Lord Jesus comes not only as the Messenger of the covenant but also as the ultimate fulfillment of that covenant. That covenant first made with Adam and Eve in the Garden promised that a Savior would come.
The angel instructed Joseph to call the child Mary was expecting “Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” We call Him Savior, not because that is His name but because that is what He has accomplished for us. Like Malachi before Him the mission so was central to His life it became His name. We call Him Immanuel because He is God with us. Fulfilling the covenant by crushing Satan and saving us from our sin required the Son of God to like us in every way. The incarnation is a wondrous mystery and unfathomable gift. Still, as we confess in the Apostles’ creed, “He is conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead.” And as we also confess in the Nicene creed it was “for us men and for our salvation (He) came down from heaven.”
St. Paul writes, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21) This is the real gift of Christmas. By grace through faith in Christ we are declared right with God. The covenant has been fulfilled, the Savior has come, and now we like Malachi before us are privileged to be the messengers of the Good News of great joy.
1. What do the names Jesus, Savior, Immanuel, Lord, Christ, mean to you?
2. We call ourselves Christian which means “little Christ.” How can we live up to the name that we claim?
3. The gift of Christmas is Christ and the message and mission of Christ is salvation. How can we share this Good News of great joy during this festive season.
Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to save us. As we look forward to celebrating Your birth again this Christmas help us to remember the purpose of Your coming and all You went through for us and for our salvation. Amen.
Hymn: “Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord”
Click here for the melody.
1. Let the earth now praise the Lord.
Who hath truly kept His word
And the sinners' Help and Friend
Now at last to us doth send.
2. What the fathers most desired,
What the prophets' heart inspired,
What they longed for many a year,
Stands fulfilled in glory here.
3. Abrams promised great Reward,
Zion's Helper, Jacob's Lord, --
Him of twofold race behold, --
Truly came, as long foretold.
4. Welcome, 0 my Savior, now!
Hail! My Portion, Lord, art Thou.
Here, too, in my heart, I pray,
Oh, prepare Thyself a way!
5. King of Glory, enter in;
Cleanse it from the filth of sin,
As Thou hast so often done;
It belongs to Thee alone.
6. As Thy coming was in peace,
Quiet, full of gentleness,
Let the same mind dwell in me
That was ever found in Thee.
7. Comfort my desponding heart:
Thou my Strength and Refuge art.
I am weak, and cunningly
Satan lays his snares for me.
8. Bruise for me the Serpent's head,
That, set free from doubt and dread,
I may cleave to Thee in faith,
Safely kept through life and death,
9. And when Thou dost come again
As a glorious King to reign,
I with joy may see Thy face,
Freely ransomed by Thy grace.
Submitted by James F. Ritter