Psalm 72:1-7 The Voice (VOICE)
A song of Solomon.
1 True God, bestow Your honest judgments upon the king
5 [May the people fear You][a] for as long as the sun shines,
Isaiah 11:1-10 The Voice (VOICE)
11 But on this humbled ground, a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising,
4 So that even those who can’t afford a good defense
With unwavering steps and integrity uncompromised, He will establish peace.
6 A day will come when the wolf will live peacefully beside the wobbly-kneed lamb,
10 Then on that day, that root from Jesse’s line
Romans 15:4-13 The Voice (VOICE)
4 You see, everything written in the days of old was recorded to give us instructions for living. We find encouragement through the Scriptures and a call to perseverance that will produce hopeful living. 5 I pray that our God, who calls you and gives you perseverance and encouragement, will join all of you together to share one mind according to Jesus the Anointed. 6 In this unity, you will share one voice as you glorify the one True God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, our Liberating King.
7 So accept one another in the same way the Anointed has accepted you so that God will get the praise He is due. 8 For, as I am fond of saying, the Anointed One has become a servant of the Jews[a] in order to demonstrate God’s truth. Effectively this confirms the promises He made to our ancestors 9 and causes the non-Jewish nations to glorify God for His mercy. As the Scriptures say,
For this I will praise You among the nations
10 Again the Scriptures say,
Nations, celebrate with His covenant people.[c]
11 And again,
Praise the Lord, all nations.
12 Again Isaiah says,
Then, the root of Jesse will emerge—
13 I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3:1-12 The Voice (VOICE)
Nazarene means, “tender, green, or living branch.” Jesus is the living Branch, the branch of David that extends the reach of the tree of Israel eventually to foreigners and outsiders.
3 Around the same time, a man called John[a] began to travel, preach, and ritually wash people through baptism in the wilderness of Judea. John preached a stern but exciting message.
John: 2 Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near.
3 John’s proclamation fulfilled a promise made by the ancient prophet Isaiah, who had said, “There will be a voice calling from the desert, saying,
Prepare the road for the Eternal One’s journey;
4 John wore wild clothes made from camel hair with a leather belt around his waist—the clothes of an outcast, a rebel. He ate locusts and wild honey.
Sometimes when people see John they are reminded of the last time God’s people had wandered in a wilderness—after the exodus from Egypt. John is all about wilderness. He preaches in the wilderness, and he wears clothes just like the prophet Elijah had worn. They think perhaps John is inaugurating a new exodus. Actually, that is a pretty good way to think of it. The Anointed One, whose way John comes to prepare, will call humanity away from comfort and status; He will call His followers to challenge their assumptions and the things they take for granted.
5 People from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and indeed from all around the river Jordan came to John. 6 They confessed their sins, and they were baptized[c] by him in the Jordan.
But John is not exactly warm to all those who come to him seeking cleansing.
7 He told some Pharisees and Sadducees who came for the ritual baptism,
John: You children of serpents! You brood of vipers! Did someone suggest you flee from the wrath that is upon us? 8-9 If you think that simply hopping in the Jordan will cleanse you, then you are sorely mistaken. Your life must bear the fruits of turning toward righteousness. Nor are you correct if you think that being descended from Abraham is enough to make you holy and right with God. Yes, the children of Abraham are God’s chosen children, but God can adopt as daughters and sons anyone He likes—He can turn these stones into sons if He likes.
To be made right with God, one must truly repent. It means to turn completely away from sin and completely toward God.
10 Even now there is an ax poised at the root of every tree, and every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and tossed into the fire. 11 I ritually cleanse you through baptism[d] as a mark of turning your life around. But someone is coming after me, someone whose sandals I am not fit to carry, someone who is more powerful than I. He will wash[e] you not in water but in fire and with the Holy Spirit. 12 He carries a winnowing fork in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor; He will gather up the good wheat in His barn, and He will burn the chaff with a fire that cannot be put out.