Preparation of the way
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Matthew 3:1-6)
The time for our national election draws near. Through the radio, the television, and in the newspaper, the people are being told to get registered in order that they may vote when the election is called. The Parliamentary Registrar’s officers are going around to various business offices and public spaces to ensure that all citizens have an opportunity to register for the election.
In the above text, God makes preparations for the arrival of his Messiah, through his servant, John. John was the last of the prophets who, down through the ages, constantly called the people to repentance because the kingdom of heaven was near.
When the time was near for the Messiah to make his appearance, God sent out John the Baptizer whom he prepared through his wilderness experience. Then he commissioned him. John invited the people, who came to hear him at the Jordan River, to make their hearts ready for God’s coming Messiah, the Savior of the world.
We are told that as the people repented and came forward, John baptized them. Baptism is God’s process of tidying us up and getting us ready for his kingdom.
In preparing the way for his Messiah, God involved the entire universe, the angels and the rest of the heavenly host, the people and their leaders, the earth and all that dwells herein. Human repentance directed by God continues this process.
John’s way and his task were not easy. Neither is our task in the Christian church an easy one. John’s life was full of hardship. He lived in the wilderness away from the comfortable lifestyle. He experienced rejection, persecution, ridicule, humiliation and indignity.
He did not get angry when the people refused to listen or when they ridiculed him. In the face of all the hardship and disappointments, he continued to prepare the way for the Messiah. Why? He was doing the work of God.
John was the one sent to announce the arrival of the Messiah at his first Advent. We are called to make that same way for His Second Advent. At his Second Advent he will come as our Righteous Judge to usher in a new age of rightness and righteousness.
The Christian community has a responsibility to prepare the people of the world for our Lord’s second coming. We do that best through the way we live and interact with the people around us. In his book “The Reformed Pastor” Richard Baxter writes, “Men would sooner believe that the gospel is from heaven, if they saw more such effects of it upon the hearts and lives of those who profess it. The world is better able to read the nature of religion in a man’s life than in the Bible.”
While we wait here for our Lord’s Second Advent, let us emulate John and be that voice crying in the wilderness of this world, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and living at peace with our neighbors. Yes, this world is desperate for a Savior. Let us share our Savior. Jesus is the answer for the world. Amen.
Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas, or telephone: 323-4107; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.