John the Baptist had a special calling and mission for his generation. He was born in a dark time where there had been no prophet speaking the words of God for over 400 years since the prophet Malachi. He was God’s messenger; he was God’s prophet and his inspired words for shake a nation. He was God’s mouthpiece and His voice to a nation that sat in darkness. He plowed the hearts of people like a fallow field, making them ready for the coming Messiah.
Luke 3:1-6: In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
The Word of the Lord came to John which is a hallmark of a prophet. It was not a word of a Pharisee or Sadducee or priest. It was the word of Yahweh, directly from the heart of God. John’s duty was to speak these words of light to his generation and to let the word of the Lord fill the valley, make the mountain low, straighten the crooked paths and level the rough places. He proclaimed the salvation of God to all flesh.
JOHN CAME AS A
In the first century a herald was a Crier, Messenger or Proclaimer who made a public proclamations for kings, princes and military commanders, which is apropos for John heralded Jesus, who was the rightful King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2ff+), the prophesied Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6ff) and the coming conqueror as King of kings (Rev 19:11-16ff). The kerux served as a close confidant of the king, and would travel throughout the realm announcing to the people whatever the king wished to make known. John understood his purpose for existence and stuck with the divine plan for his life. Certain qualities were required of heralds. They must have powerful voices, so voice auditions were often held. Also they had to be capable of calming down an unruly mob, in order to faithfully communicate the command. An honest disposition was also required, as a protection against the exaggeration of a royal decree. Furthermore, they could make no additions or subtractions from the received message.
Apart from Jesus Christ, John the Baptist is probably the most theologically significant figure in the Gospels. As was the case with Jesus, his birth was meticulously recorded (Luke 1:5-25ff). His entrance into the world was marked by angelic proclamation and divine intervention (Luke 1:57-80). John’s birth not only parallels that of Jesus, but echoes the momentous occasion of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:15-22 ; 21:1-7). John is clearly a pivotal figure in the salvation history of God.
The Bible sets forth many characteristics of John the Baptist that set him apart as he placed himself at full disposal of God.
He was great before the Lord (Luke 1:15); He was filled with holy spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15); He turned many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God (Luke 1:16); John went in the power and spirit of Elijah, to turn hearts of the fathers to children, the disobedient to wisdom just and make ready for the Lord a people prepared (Luke 1:170; He was the voice of God and prepared the way of the Lord and made his paths straight (Luke 3:40; He preached the good news to the people (Luke 3:18); John bore witness to the word of Yahweh and he was more than a prophet (Matthew 11:9); He was God’s messenger and no one was greater among men than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11).
John the Baptist:
- He came with no theology;
- He came with no philosophy to discuss;
- He came with no new cult to introduce;
- He did not come to ask men to consider a position which they could accept or reject as they pleased;
- He came with the thundering voice of a great inspiration “Repent;”
- His message of God’s authority stirred every place, and everyone. John the Baptist was prophesied many centuries before in Scripture:
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”6 A voice says, “Cry!” And I said ,“What shall I cry? ”All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:3 NASB: “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.”
Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.
Malachi 4:5,6: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
John’s ministry: Prepare the way of the Lord; Made his paths straight; mountains and hills made low; level the uneven ground; the crooked shall me made straight; reveal the glory of the Lord; all flesh will see the salvation of God. Simple Message: Repent the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mountains are symbolic of the Devils deeply entrenched position, leering over and dominating society. Bulldoze the mountains into fallow fields preparing the way for the SAVIOR TO SOW HIS SEED. John preached against selfish subsistence. John began to awaken people spiritually
Luke 3:3 Wuest – As it stands written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, A voice of one shouting in the uninhabited region, Make ready the Lord’s road.
Make ready the way of the Lord – Make ready is a command in the aorist imperative calling for his hearers to do this now and not to delay or procrastinate. Their need is urgent! Wuest says “That was the character of the preaching of the Baptist. His was no pussy-footing, no beating about the bush, no smooth, oily, namby-pamby preaching. The Baptist was a man among men, and his preaching was straight from the shoulder.” He is speaking figuratively of course and not calling for them to make a literal path, but to make their hearts ready to receive the Lord Jesus. Wuest adds ” His road needed to be prepared, that is, the hearts of His Chosen People must be ready. John’s ministry was to see to it that Israel was ready to welcome its Messiah.”
The people had not been obeying the Lord, they had not kept His statutes and commandments, they had not walked in His ways, to love and serve Him. Now He is coming to earth to walk among men, so the command goes forth from John to prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Broadus – Great public roads were rare in the East until introduced by the Romans. When an Oriental monarch was designing to journey into a certain region, he sent messengers in advance to require that a graded road should be prepared. Hence the image, here denoting spiritual preparation. Notice that in Isa. 40:4, every part of the process of grading is mentioned.
Literally the idea was to fill in the holes, remove the rocks and debris and knock down the hills, to make the king’s passage pleasant and easy. In this context of course the commands (make ready and prepare) convey a figurative meaning
Make ready means to make ready, specifically to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity. Thayer says when it is used as here to prepare the way (hodos = road) of the Lord, it is used as a figure “drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable,” thus, “to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure His blessings.”
Edwards comments that “The imagery given in verse 3 from Isaiah 40:3-5 is also very pertinent for us. If Christ is going to continue His advance in our lives, then many things must be cleared away. The hills and mountains of pride and unrighteousness must be leveled. The valleys of things we lack must be filled up. Rough spots must be smoothed out until all which hinders us from reflecting God’s glory is removed. Then our lives will no longer be a wilderness, but a highway upon which the King of glory may be clearly seen.”
The fact here recorded is one that is much overlooked. We are apt to lose sight of him who went before the face of our Lord, and to see nothing but the Lord Himself. We forget the morning star in the full blaze of the Sun. And yet it is clear that John’s preaching arrested the attention of the whole Jewish people, and created an excitement all over Palestine. It aroused the nation from its slumbers, and prepared it for the ministry of our Lord, when He appeared. Jesus Himself says, “He was a burning and a shining light–you were willing to rejoice for a season in his light.” (John 5:35.)
Prepare: Everything is ready. Make ready the road of the Lord.
Jesus Christ- I am the Road (John 14:6a), ROAD of the Lord is Jesus Christ. God made know to us the road of Life-Jesus. Jesus is the Road that leads to peace, joy, reconciliation, restoration and eternal life.
The preparation was the inward preparation of the hearts of the people for the coming of their king. Note that the command is personal. It is something that you must do. The prophet said, “Prepare to meet your God.” Basically John was saying the King is on His way, prepare the way for Him.
The hills and mountains of pride and unrighteousness must be leveled. The valleys of things we lack must be filled up. Rough spots must be smoothed out until all which hinders us from reflecting God’s glory is removed. Then our lives will no longer be a wilderness, but a highway upon which the King of glory may be clearly seen.”
Make his paths straight:
Paths (tribos from tribo = to rub, wear down) in secular Greek was used for a path, usually a well-worn track, a beaten path, thoroughfare and thus a defined track or route.
Direction that we are on in our life is referred as a path or road in Scripture. You see that God and the devil are actively involved in the highway business. Both are builder of roads. Both are maker of paths. 1st usage of “path” is in Genesis 49:7: “horned snake in the path” referring to the idolatry of the tribe of Dan; There are traps on the path (Job 18:10; Psalm 142:3); paths of devil spirits and paths of wicked men (Judges 5:20, Job 5:10, Job 22:15); Paths of destruction (Job 30:12); Paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3); False ways or paths (Psalm 119:29); path of God’s commandments (Psalm 119:35); Snares on paths (Psalm 140:5); Crooked paths (Prov. 2:15); Paths of life (Proverbs 2:19); paths of justice (Proverbs 8:20); level paths (Psalm 27:11); path of death (Proverbs 5:5); turn aside from the path (Isaiah 30:11); way or path of Balaam in Scripture in 2 Peter 2:15,16 is referred to as madness as Israel forsook the right way and went astray. The way of the Lord. Jesus Christ is the way, the road. Any other road you are on you are lost or deceived. The road is broad that leads to destruction; it is wide like an eight lane highway. We are always on path or road in life. A path is a course of life and a mode of action. We are all on a journey on a road. What path are you on? What road are you following? In Noah’s day the people corrupted His way on the earth. Psalm 18:30-God’s way is perfect. Psalm 37:5 tell us to “Commit your path to the Lord. Trust in Him and He shall act.” Psalm 139:3 God is acquainted with all your ways (paths). God tells us to commit our path to Him and He will act.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.
God promises us if we trust in him with all our heart and don’t lean on our own understanding and acknowledge him in everything, He will make our path straight. Only God can make your paths straight. Otherwise the path you are on is crooked.
Prepare your heart for the way of the Lord. Make ready your heart for the road of the Lord and let him make all your paths straight.
Like the Christmas lyric, “every heart is to prepare him room.”
We must prepare our hearts for the Lord, before we can tell others to do so.
2 Timothy 2:19: But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Amplified: So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.
We want to be an honorable vessel, holy and useful to God, prepared for every good work.
We must prepare our minds (Romans 12:2) We must prepare our bodies (Romans 12:1;I Corinthians 6;19,20); We must prepare our hearts; We must prepare and put on our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:14ff); Live in prayer; Walk in love and light and do not mix our soul with the world.
This advent season we want to cleanse ourselves from worldly fears, anxieties and ways of thinking and be an honorable vessel for the master’s use, walking in every good work He has prepared for us. This makes our path straight.
Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God has the good work prepared for us. He has prepared the path of good works.
1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Always being prepared in the way of the Lord
We prepare the way of the Lord in our generation. We are the John the Baptists of this age.
We bring the message that makes the Lord paths straight, levels mountains, and fills valleys.
In this information age, we accumulate mounds of data—regarding ethics, solutions to social ills and the like—yet our morals decline. Because God has revealed His truth to us, each individual Christian has a responsibility to conform to it and grow. A greater diversity of distractions compete for our time and attention than at any other time in the history of mankind. If we are not extremely careful, and if we lose our sense of urgency, we will gradually lose our understanding of what is true and what is not. Our ability to distinguish between right and wrong will become blurred. We must make sure that God, His Word and His way are always first in our lives.
When the Israelites rejected God’s instruction contained in His law, they rejected the Instructor as well. Their relationship with Him quickly deteriorated.
Commandment means “to engrave or cut into stone,” suggesting its permanence and immutability in contrast to temporary and changeable lies.
So it is with us: God wants to change our hearts so He can change our actions and turn around our lives.
In every area of life, Israel perverted the truth of God to accommodate the ideas of men. In the final tally, they loved lies rather than the revelation of God (II Thessalonians 2:11-12).
We must love the truth and not the lie to prepare the way of the Lord.
All people see the salvation of God in Christ. He is the way, the truth and life back to the Father; he is the mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5).
Look at Simeon’s prophecy concerning Jesus Christ:
Luke 2:30—32: For my eyes have seen your salvation31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Prepare way of the Lord is a heart issue. John the Baptist plowed the field of the heart to make ready for the Lord Jesus’ ministry on the earth. God still cries out to us in the wilderness of this world to GO and make my ways know; GO and sow the seed of my word, GO as lights of this world and shine; GO as the salt of the earth and stand speaking the words of life. We are ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ and we are to prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness of this world (2 Corinthians. 5:17-20). We are His voice, His hands, His feet to this generation. We plow, we plant, we water, and God gives the increase. Our message is to be reconciled to God. We have ministry of reconciliation, and we have the Word of reconciliation. We implore people to repent and be reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We tell people about the good news of salvation and restoration through Christ.
Romans 10:12-15: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
We have been sent to herald forth the good news of great joy about the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ in whom there is remission of sins, a restoration of peace and a future hope.
We have the true Christmas message and we are sent by the authority of God to prepare His way on the earth, to bring back people to God where their paths can be made straight, where the mountains and valleys in their life will be leveled and filled. We show forth God’s glory and share His message of salvation and the wonderful hope of his second coming.
We can never forget that God is preparing a place for us (I Corinthians 2:9); Jesus promised he preparing a place for us and will bring us home to Him. (John 14:1-3). This future hope motivates us to be steadfast and faithful, abounding in the work of the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58).
One who is prepared has the hope as the anchor his soul. The one who prepares the way of the Lord, waits on Him to act. To hope in Him is to wait! Perseverance, steadfastness, loyalty, tenacity, patience, endurance, stamina: all of these characteristics reveal the character of the one who hopes in the Lord. God is never in a hurry, but He is never late. If I trust in Him, I know that His timing is “never hurried and never late.” And I must be patient. My faithfulness is the action of waiting for Him to act. This is no passive attitude. There is much to be done during the time of anticipation. We must be prepared for God’s action. When He acts, the sea parts, the mountains split, the graves open, the stars fall. We see the valleys filled, the rough places, the crooked places made straight and hills brought low. Woe to those who stand unprepared. But when He acts is not up to us.
We reflect the glory of the Lord as we prepare His way and we are transformed more and more in that glory until he returns, What a glorious promise of transformation.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[f] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
God wants everyone to return to Him. God wants all to return to His loving embrace and everlasting arms. We herald forth to all people with the message, “Return! Repent! Reconcile! Prepare to meet thy God!” (Amos 4:12).
Amos 5:4,6: Seek me and live!
Seek the Lord and live! This is foundation of our message this season to the world. If we seek or desire anything more than Him, we will be disappointed, frustrated and left empty. God is a million times better than anything the world has to offer.
Isiah 40:25: To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Nothing in this generation compares to God.
Isaiah 40:28-31: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
God gives us power and strength to mount up with wings like eagles, to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint. He takes care of us as we prepare His way.
Isaiah 40:9-11: Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
We proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ in all his magnificence as the road back to the Heavenly Father.
We prepare the way of the Lord in this generation. We are heralds and messengers of the good news. We proclaim that people no longer need to fear. We proclaim “Behold the Christ! Behold the Lord God! Behold the Liberator! Behold the Shepherd! Behold the King! Behold the way, the road, the path! Behold the life! Behold the truth! Look at what he has done for you! His arms are open! He is knocking at the door of the heart! Be restored! Be reconciled! Be set free! Receive His gift of eternal life!”
This is the wonder of Christmas and the significance of his birth and life.
Jesus Christ is the subject of the Word, the red thread, the essence of God’s work upon the earth. You find him everywhere in the Word.
My people, the light has dawned and it is rising to the height of its midday brilliance among us today. Why? Because he is the Way, that’s why this is our way. He is the Truth, and this is our truth. He is the Light, and, this is our light. He is the light of our lives, people. He is, therefore we are.
In Genesis he is the promised seed of the woman.
In Exodus he is the Passover lamb.
In Leviticus he is the High Priest.
In Numbers he is the star to rise out of Jacob.
In Deuteronomy he is the two laws: Love God and love your neighbor.
In Joshua he is the captain of the Lord of Hosts.
In Judges he is the covenant angel named Wonderful.
In Ruth he is the kinsman redeemer.
In Samuel he is the root and offspring of David.
In Kings he is the greater than the Temple.
In Chronicles he is the King’s son.
In Ezra-Nehemiah he is the rebuilder.
In Esther he is the savior of God’s people.
In Job he is the daysman.
In Psalms he is the song.
In Proverbs he is the wisdom of God.
In Ecclesiastes he is the one among a thousand.
In The Song of Solomon he is the bridegroom of the bride.
In Isaiah he is Jacob’s branch.
In Jeremiah he is our righteousness.
In Lamentations he is the unbelievers’ judgment.
In Ezekiel he is the true shepherd.
In Daniel he is the stone that became the head of the corner.
In Hosea he is the latter rain.
In Joel he is God’s dwelling in Zion.
In Amos he is the raiser of David’s tabernacle.
In Obadiah he is the deliverer on Mount Zion.
In Jonah he is our salvation.
In Micah he is the Lord of kings.
In Nahum he is the stronghold in the time of trouble.
In Habakkuk he is our joy and confidence.
In Zephaniah he is our mighty Lord.
In Haggai he is the desire of the nations.
In Zechariah he is our servant The Branch.
In Malachi he is the son of Righteousness.
This is the red thread. You find him everywhere throughout the Word.
In Matthew he is Jehovah’s Messiah.
In Mark he is Jehovah’s servant.
In Luke he is Jehovah’s man.
And in John he is Jehovah’s Son.
In Acts he is the gift of holy spirit.
In Romans he is the believers’ justification.
In Corinthians he is the believers’ sanctification.
In Galatians he is the believers’ righteousness.
In Ephesians he is the believers’ heavenly standing.
In Philippians he is the believers’ self-adequacy.
And in Colossians he is the believers’ completeness.
And in Thessalonians he is the believers’ soon-glorification.
In Timothy he is the faithful men.
In Titus he is the fellowlaborer.
In Philemon he is the love of a believer.
In Hebrews he is the High Priest for sin.
In James he is the royal law.
In Peter he is the pastor.
In John he is as we are.
In Jude he is the beloved.
And in Revelation he is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Who is this Jesus Christ? Yes, who is this Jesus Christ?
He is the Red Thread that binds together the Word from Genesis to Revelation.
He is the doom of the Adversary as promised in Genesis 3:15 and accomplished in Revelation 20:10.
He is the “no night” of Revelation 22:5, of which Genesis 1:1 is night.
He is the light of Revelation 21:13, of which Genesis 1:16 and 17 is the sun and moon. He is the “no more death, neither sorrow or crying” of Revelation 21:4, of which Genesis 3:16 and 17 is sorrow, suffering, and death.
He is the “no more curse” of Revelation 22:3, of which Genesis 3:17 is the curse.
He is the welcome home to paradise of Revelation 22:2, of which Genesis 3:22 to 24 is the banishment from paradise.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Abel’s sacrifice, Abraham’s ram. He is Isaac’s well. He is Jacob’s ladder.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Judah’s scepter, Moses’ rod, Joshua’s ram’s horn, Samuel’s horn of oil, David’s little-ol’ slingshot, Hezekiah’s sundial, Elijah’s mantle and Elisha’s staff.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Job’s prayer, Isaiah’s fig tree, Ezekiel’s wheel, Daniel’s Jerusalem window, Jonah’s sea monster and Malachi’s storehouse.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Peter’s shadow, Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons.
He is the lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon in life’s desserts.
He is the pearl of great price.
He is the Rock for pilgrims in a weary land.
He is the believer’s justification.
He is the believer’s righteousness.
He is the believer’s sanctification.
He is the believer’s redemption.
He is the believer’s knowledge.
He is the believer’s wisdom.
He is the believer’s all- in-all in all.
He is the believer’s completely complete completeness.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is the bright and morning star, and he’s my Lord and my Savior.
This is the essence of the Christmas Message!
Go out and prepare the way of the Lord!