Announcer: Let’s play—Jeopardy!
Contestant: I’ll take “Quirky Prophets” for $100, Alex.
Host: This major prophet went around “stripped and barefoot” for a time.
Contestant: Who is Isaiah?
Host: Isaiah is right! Choose again.
Contestant: Let’s go with “Quirky Prophets” for $200.
Host: He lay on his left side for 390 days and then on his right for 40 more.
Contestant: Who is Ezekiel?
Host: Ezekiel it is!
Contestant: “Quirky Prophets” for $300, Alex.
Host: He wore camels’ hair clothes and ate bugs.
Contestant: Who is John the Baptist?
Host: Right again! You certainly know your quirky prophets!
Wait a minute! Aren’t these the guys who foretold the coming of God’s Messiah? Aren’t these the ones who announced great details of His Son’s incarnation—the time and place of His birth, His message, His sacrificial death, and His breathtaking resurrection—centuries before He came to us? You mean, these are they who trumpeted Him in the stirring eloquence of hope—“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him”?1 and “He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”2 and, as a result of His work, “I will put my Spirit in you”3?
Yes, the words of the oracles have been the balm of comfort and hope in souls for millennia, and their fulfillment in Christ will be peace and joy in billions forever. Yet the prophets who proclaimed them were a curious lot; we might think of them as the original misfit toys of Christmas. Then what could such unconventional heralds portend but the coming of an unconventional king?
For Jesus came not to advance a worldly kingdom, but to establish a kingdom not of this world. He came not to condemn us for our unrighteousness, but to save the condemned through His own righteousness. He came not to be served, but to serve. He came in our likeness, so we would be transformed into His. He descended to us, that we would ascend to Him. He came to us poor, and we live in Him rich. He died unjustly at the hand of his subjects, so his subjects would live justified in the hand of their King.
This Lenten season, our church is focusing on Jesus as King. Thank God, our Sovereign does not conform to our conventions, for they are always opposite His own. Thank God, too, for His unconventional heralds—the faithful ones who are willing to forego the approval of the world, so that its people might not live in … well, jeopardy!
Father, thank you for your ways, which are so much higher than ours. Thank you, also, for your people who, whether in the past or in the present, choose your ways over their own. Please grace me to be counted among them. In Jesus name, Amen.
Christ in me is humility.
[Click here to read the today’s Scripture in Matthew 3:1-6.]
1 Matthew 3:4
2 Isaiah 9:6
3 Ezekiel 36:26, 27