Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 8 (Matthew 3:1-6)
Our picture of prophets is a little skewed. Most of us think of prophets more as oracles or fortune-tellers. The Bible is filled with prophets who boldly proclaim God’s Word to in a timely way to people who need to hear it. Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah are all great prophets from ancient days who did just that. Now in our journey we meet another prophet who prepares the way for those who will journey with Jesus.
While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called “the Baptizer,” was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”
John and his message were authorized by Isaiah’s prophecy:
Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight!
John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action. There at the Jordan River those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life. (Matthew 3:1-6, MSG)
We have heard about prophetic fulfillment and we have already seen several pretend kings. Now we hear from a real life prophet. John came preaching in the desert, his message was prophetic: “Repent! The kingdom of heaven is near.” This is the one prophet Isaiah spoke of, a voice in the desert crying: Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him!
John looked like a prophet, dressed like one, ate like one: rough clothes, wild diet, fiery message. Many people went to him from everywhere. For what? To confess their sins and be baptized in the Jordan River.
So far on this journey we’ve heard of kings and prophets and God’s coming. We’ve seen worship, obedience, God’s guidance and man’s brutal wickedness. Now John appears and his message is simple, direct and piercing: Repent! Change your ways, turn around and prepare for the true King’s coming. Don’t let Him find you busy with wickedness, idle and indolent, or crooked and twisted. Straighten up! Get right! Clean it up! Tell the truth about your sin and then wash it away.
Prayer: God, thank You for speaking clearly, sharply, simply through Your prophets. I am listening and I hear You. I will repent and respond to You. This is another way to worship You, the true King. Reign in me and put to death all sin, remove all stain, restore the right spirit in me. I bow in humbleness. Let me see Your kingdom come. Amen.
Whatever a prophet reveals, the correct response is the same: Repent! Change your ways and worship God. What do you need to change?