Comfort, comfort my people
Luke 3:6 “And all people will see God’s salvation.”
Luke has already given us the context with naming the leaders of the time, 5 Gentiles and 2 Jews who all were guilty of oppression and abuse of power in many ways.
Then we have seen that John’s ministry is in the wilderness and it is a call to return to God to be ceremonially baptised in water as an act of cleansing.
John doesn’t speak as a voice with no authority. He blends his message within their famous prophet, Isaiah. He knows the Messiah is about to come. He knows he is the forerunner preparing the way. In quoting and referring to Isaiah 40 he can see that he is fulfilling this prophecy.
The prophecy is beautiful and powerful.
“Comfort, comfort my people …”
What I can remember from my bible college days is this: 39 chapters of severe judgment on God’s people and other nations. The northern part has already been taken into exile and the south (which is modern day Israel) is also receiving equal judgment for straying from walking with God. So by the time you finish reading chapter 39 it is a pretty gloomy picture. Until chapter 40 begins! With the tone being so different some have said it was authored by someone different. How could a person carry polar-opposite messages? I always found it nonsense and still do today. I believe Isaiah wrote the whole thing.
Basically the message is this, ‘speak kindly to Israel, the judgment is over, her sin has been removed, the payment has been made. Basically for the next 27 chapters it is all about salvation. The message of the whole book is this: God who judges Israel and the nations will soon bring salvation.
This is the gospel.
We don’t dismiss the Jew, telling them that they have missed their way and that all that is left is judgment. We don’t point out the terrors of Hitler and the suffering of today as signs of that judgment. We bring comfort. “God has seen your suffering but He has come with salvation.”
Neither do we dismiss the Gentile focusing only on their sinful lifestyle. We talk of a Saviour who comes to comfort, who comes to rescue, to lift them up, to comfort them and to restore them.
Salvation must be seen and offered to all. There is no one too far removed, too broken or sinful to find salvation.
Less judgment more gospel.