Read This Week: Matthew 3
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” – Matthew 3:1-3 NIV
We live in an information age. At no time in human history has access to information that we can use in our lives, careers, relationships, and spiritual journeys been more readily available. We can tap a button on our phone or make a click on a computer, and we can engage with a plethora of data, information, and knowledge. This access also allows us to share the message of Jesus Christ to the world like never before.
Modern technology, the internet, and a vast amount of communication mediums were not available in ancient times. Information and messages about the world and God were not readily available. People got their messages through the decrees of their rulers, word of mouth, and by those proclaiming it to them. They had to hear about them (remember when that was a thing in our lives?). When something important was to be told or accomplished, the ancient custom was to send people ahead and prepare them for the message.
John the Baptist was that person called to go before Jesus and prepare the way for him and his message. He went out to where the people were and preached the coming of the kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ that everyone would soon witness. Verses 1-2 says:
In those days, John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
John’s role was to prepare the way for the Lord. The word prepare means “to make ready” and in this context, also means “to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure his blessings.” This indicates that the purpose of John’s message was to get the people ready to hear the good news of salvation so that they would be willing and able to receive it when Jesus came along. The preaching of John was clearing the path for people to walk to find Jesus.
The modern-day believer and follower of Jesus have the same mission as John the Baptist in ancient times (outside of baptizing Jesus). We are to go out where the people are and where we find ourselves living, working, and doing life, and prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. We are to express love, gratitude, kindness, and goodness to people as we share and help them be ready to receive the message when the Holy Spirit draws them in. With our words and actions, we should prepare the way for others to know Christ. We should show them the eternal blessing it is to be in a relationship with and do life with God.
Times and access to information have changed, but the mission remains the same. Christians are to set the table for the main course. We are to live as Jesus did, preach as John did, and clear the path for people to see the validity and power of the gospel message. Our lives should not be a hindrance to others experiencing the salvation, grace, and love of God through Christ. May we take our role as preparers of the way very seriously. In the manner in which we talk, treat others, and engage in activities. All of these things, if guided by the Holy Spirit, can make paths straight for others to have a life in God.