“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,[b] 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”[c]—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[d] 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1.1-4
For the next several entries I will be switching to an Advent theme entitled “Preparing for Christmas.” I will look at particular characters within the Christmas story.
We read from Luke where Mary met with the angel of the Lord who informed her that she was going to bear and give birth to the Messiah. She then runs to the house of her cousin Elizabeth, who was also with child, and whose child leaped in the womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. That baby is John the Baptist, the discussion of todays’ study.
The Gospel of Mark begins with John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. This is not a traditional Christmas story in the sense that John was essentially the same age of Jesus. Unlike Jesus, John was not born in a manger in a stable in Bethlehem. He was not greeted by a Heavenly Host of Angels singing or shepherds watching or wise men bearing gifts. John was most likely born in or around Nazareth, in the region of Galilee, to both of his biological parents Zechariah and Elizabeth. He was not hunted like King Herod did Jesus nor was his family forced to flee to Egypt.
Yet John, when he would grow up, would be crucial in helping pave the way for the Messiah. John had one message on his mind and that was “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” Even though when John comes on the scene Jesus is nearing thirty years old, John’s preparation helps people from that day until today to meet with Jesus.
Scripture mentions only a few siblings of Jesus, and John the baptist his cousin. But it was John who came “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And this is how we must approach and prepare for Jesus — humbly, repentant and full of confession. Whether we are meeting the Christ Child for the first time this Christmas, or we’ve walked with him for years — sin has no equation in the picture. Holiness is required in order to receive the King.
So in a sense, John the Baptist as an adult, helps us prepare the way for the infant Jesus today. He helps us welcome the baby into our hearts as we would welcome God himself.
Prepare for the coming King. Repent and believe the Gospel.
“O Lord God, thank you for coming to earth to save us. Thank you for the power to redeem our brokenness and cleanse us from the stain of sin, death and disobedience. I praise you Lord for your loving kindness. I exalt your name for you are full of glory. Come now, Holy Spirt and walk with your people today as we prepare for the coming of the one born in Bethlehem so many years ago. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen