John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus

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John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus

Luke 3:3-4 “He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”  NIV Bible

Extra Reading: Luke 3:1-18

It is amazing that when John began preaching in the wilderness, a group of eager listeners gathered around him. The Israelites considered John to be a great prophet. It is no surprising that they acted that way, because God had not sent a prophet to Israel for around 400 years, and so people noticed John. Some mistook John to be Jesus. Hence the question: “Has the Messiah come, the promised Deliverer of Israel? Jesus was watching and waiting for God’s appointed time. He would announce a new era-the kingdom of God had come! John the Baptist was busy shouting in the barren wilderness, speaking like the prophets of old, challenging people to turn from their sin to avoid punishment of hell and turn to God to experience His mercy. I want to say that this is a message of all times and places, but John spoke it with particular urgency: he was preparing the people for the coming Messiah. His ministry was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of “a voice shouting in the wilderness” (Luke 3:4) to prepare the coming of the Lord. I believe that the calling for believers today is similar to John’s, for they too should challenge people to come to Jesus. We are surrounded by moral and spiritual wilderness that is very resistant to God’s voice.

John was merely God’s “voice” for the important message that God was sending to His people (Luke 3:2). By the way what was that message? ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’. “Prepare” simply means to make something ready; “way” could also be translated “road”. Part of “prepare the way” is to make His paths straight. John was an uncompromising preacher and his audience, the Israelites, who came to see this prophet in the wilderness, were faced with a life-changing message. If they could prepare themselves well-clear away the spiritual garbage and straighten any “crooked” moral paths-the way would be ready for their King and Messiah to come. Let me say that those who accepted John’s status as a true prophet from God understood these words as God’s message to them, humbled themselves, repented, received baptism, and opened the “way” for their Messiah to take hold of their lives. What a wonderful way to accept and receive God’s message and the messenger. You will recall that John was not wearing a fancy suit from a well-known brand. He was only wearing skin hides and feeding on locusts and honey. John was passing a message to Israel saying, “You are headed the wrong direction, and if you don’t do a 180 degree turn you will meet with disaster.” He had little concern for subtlety or social protocol in his preaching. He let people know in no uncertain terms that if they continued on their present course, they were on collision course with judgment. John called for true repentance-nothing less than a complete change of mind, heart, and behaviour, the kind of radical change that only God can enable. Have you experienced this kind of change in your life? Do you need to repent of anything-actions, thoughts, attitudes, omissions-now? I am tempted to say why not.

Prayer: O God, help me to heed Your warnings brought to us through Your prophets. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Rev. Samuel N. Modise       

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