The message of Matthew 3:13-17 is expressed most clearly in the voice from the heavens, changed slightly from its Markan source from “You are my beloved Son,” to “This is my beloved Son.” Jesus is proclaimed in this text to be God’s special, beloved Son, and God is said to be pleased with him. This quotation adapted from Psalm 2:7 and from Isaiah 42:1 indicates that Jesus was proclaimed in the Synoptic communities to be a combination of God’s chosen kingly figure (Psalm 2) to rule in God’s great kingdom and of the Servant figure (Isaiah 42:1) who does everything in a way that is pleasing to God.
Within our Church Year schedule, already within a week after the birth of Jesus, our texts remind us that Jesus was born to suffer and to die. Our theology, if it is to be faithful to the texts, must be a theology of the cross, a theology of God in Christ suffering with us for our redemption.
The usage of religious traditions affects the form and even the content of those traditions. For example, usage of evergreen trees that are brought into our homes, stores, and churches during the season of Christmas over periods of time has affected the trees themselves.
The comforting message of each of these texts selected for us for the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year is that God is present with us. The expectation level for this is very high. It is almost Christmas, but not quite. Something must be held in suspense in anticipation of Christmas.
The primary theme of the texts for the Third Sunday of Advent for this year is that the Lord is coming and has come to relieve the suffering of those who are suffering political, economic, social, and religious oppression and those who are disadvantaged by a variety of afflictions.