Prepare the Way!
Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:1-4; Luke 3:1-2
“Prepare the way of the Lord,make his paths straight.” – Mark 1:3 ESV
Luke gives us the specifics. “It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness.” (Luke 3:1-2 NLT). The timing was precise. The long delay was over. The Messiah’s arrival was near.
John, the son of Zechariah, later to be nicknamed John the Baptizer, was to set the stage for the entry of Jesus into His public ministry. Interestingly enough, John’s commission sent him to the Judean wilderness to begin his proclamation of the Messiah’s arrival. Not exactly a prominent assignment or an ideal place to begin his tenure as the Messiah’s advance PR team. The Judean wilderness was not exactly user-friendly. It was a harsh and hostile place, far from the political and religious action taking place in Jerusalem. But it was all part of God’s divine plan and in fulfillment of the Word of God given to Isaiah hundreds of years earlier. “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mark 1:2-3 ESV).
John began his ministry right where he lived – in the wilderness. It was all part of God’s elaborate, detailed and predetermined plan. It had been 30 years since Jesus arrived on the scene as a newborn baby in Bethlehem. John, a cousin of Jesus, had been born at roughly the same time. His life had been set aside by God for this very moment. His assignment had been predetermined by God and predicted by an angel 30 years earlier. “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:13-17 ESV).
The time had come. John was ready. His assignment was clear. The Messiah was near. God was about to do something out of the ordinary, unexpected, unpredictable, unorthodox and unlike anything that had ever happened since the creation of the world.
Father, this story never ceases to amaze me. You could have brought Your Son into the world in so many other ways. Yet You chose this path. You decided to bring it all about under these circumstances and including these obscure individuals. I am reminded of the necessity of John’s obedience. He was set apart by You before birth, yet it was essential that he be willing to do what You had called him to do. His parents had kept the requirements given to them by the angel. Mary and Joseph had done their part in the raising of Jesus. And now it was all coming together. Because You had ordained it that way. Your ways are not our ways. “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” (Romans 11:33 NLT). Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men