Malachi 3:1-4 and Luke 3:1-6

MALACHI 3: 1-4

 3:1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight–indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;  3:3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.

3:4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years

LUKE 3:1-6

3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 3:2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

3:3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 3:4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
3:5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;
3:6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”

1. Which words come to mind when you think of judgment? Why?

 Consequences
 Fear
 Harsh
 Condemnation
 Other

2. What is your image of repentance?
 Person at the altar praying
 Person weeping tears of regret
 Person celebrating victory
 Person offering large donation to a charity
 Person bringing coffee and donuts to his or her co-workers
 Other

3. Compare and contrast the words refine and judge. Which word seems more
spiritual? Which seems more comforting? And why? How might they both
be words of hope?

4. Why does Luke locate John’s preaching “in the wilderness”? What echoes of
Israel’s story does this conjure up and what might it mean for how they see
themselves currently?

5. How does John’s ministry prepare the way for Jesus?

6. What does it look like to “prepare the way of the Lord”? How do we make
the Lord’s path straight?

7. How does John’s message of “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness
of sins” invite refinement of our goals, dreams, and desires?

8. Why would the refining of the social, economic, and political order have
been received as a message of hope to those who felt as though they were
still in political and spiritual exile?

Compassionate God, as the calendar gets more crowded, help us to focus ever
more on watching and waiting for the refinement you seek to do in us and
through us. Help us to be a blessing to our family and friends as we strive to be
people who embody forgiveness and repentance. Amen.

Discipleship Ministries | Second Sunday of Advent, (umcdiscipleship.org)