Third Sunday in Advent: God’s surprise

By Simon Barrow
December 14, 2014

In chapter 11 of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus speaks of his forerunner, the spiky and angular prophet known to us as John the Baptist.

Meanwhile John, imprisoned, is enquiring after Jesus. Is he really the promised Messiah, God’s person, the one in whom we see God in a new light involving new possibilities for the world?

Jesus responds in two ways. First, he says that the signs of God’s coming into the world are that the blind receive sight, the people are set free, and the reign of death is challenged – because it cannot stand against God’s reign of life and love.

Second, he gently chides his followers. What were you expecting, he asks them: someone wearing the soft colours and clothes of the royal court, or a wild looking man in the desert?

People anticipated that the Messiah would be a king. And they were right. But this king, Jesus, was to be like no earthly monarch.

No cringing servants, vast riches and standing armies for Jesus. Instead he spent his time primarily with the outcast of traditional religion and establishment politics, showing how God’s love is based on grace not favour.

As we approach Christmas, that is the challenge to our anticipation and celebration.

Will we be ready for the surprise that Christ’s coming brings with it, and will we be waiting in the right places for his arrival?

* Christmas truce? Help make it permanent:
* The AlterNATIVITY Advent Calendar (with Bloomsbury Baptist Church):
* Advent: God's alternative agenda:
* More on Advent from Ekklesia here:
* More on Bloomsbury Baptist Church here:
* Visit the ALTERnativity website:


© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.

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