“This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” —Matthew 3:3
Advent would not be complete without the peculiar character we call John the Baptist—the Advent sentinel crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” John was rough around the edges. He wore clothing of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and (if you looked closely) you might see bits of locust and wild honey stuck in his beard. He’s not portrayed—in Scripture or in our imaginations—as the warmest or most inviting biblical figure, and not the kind of person who would be warmly welcomed into most churches on a Sunday morning. He probably wouldn’t show up there anyway, because John chose the wilderness as his pulpit and preached to anyone and everyone who dared to visit him there.
Of John, Luke’s Gospel says this:
“With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’” —Luke 1:17
John was many things: a preacher, a firebrand of a prophet, the cousin and forerunner of the Messiah. But perhaps most centrally, John was a witness, and his job—his destiny—was to point away from himself and directly to Jesus. John Calvin called him the “lantern, which shone in front of the Son of God.”
John the Baptist preached a message of preparation. He encourages us to welcome and worship Jesus, while also accepting Christ’s call to take up our crosses and follow where He leads. Amazingly, each of us is now emboldened with this same message—called and compelled to share it with a waiting world. How can you use your voice to make ready a path for Jesus’ arrival?
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