“Road Work Ahead” and “Construction Ahead,” are, it seems, frequently seen summer-time signs around Kansas – whether on city streets, the K96 Bypass or on the Kansas Turnpike! The joke in South Dakota (my “home state”) is that there are only have two seasons throughout the entire year – one is “Winter” and the other is “Road Construction!” Dealing with road construction is hard, but at some level, we all know that it is absolutely necessary!
Both the Old Testament reading for today (Isaiah 40) and the Gospel lesson (Mark 1) tell us to “…Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” (Isaiah 40: 3-4)
Through the prophet Isaiah, God promises that “I will send My messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way – [someone who would be] a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’” (Mark 1: 2-3) Each of the Gospels (Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3; and John 1) reveal that John the Baptist is the long-awaited messenger sent by God the Father to prepare the Royal Highway for the Messiah who is coming – Jesus Christ the Savior of the world!
John was a “colorful character” to say the least! He “wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.” (Mark 1: 6) His message, filled with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, brought people from “the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” (Mark 1: 5) Under the inspiration of God, he baptized those who came to him and he preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His personality and his preaching drew the multitudes to come and see and listen, but the focus of his message was squarely on Jesus! “And this was his message: ‘After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” (Mark 1: 7-8)
John came bearing witness to Jesus. John, the Evangelist, tells us Jesus is “the Light of men” and that John the Baptist, “came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through Him (Jesus) all men might believe. He (John) was not the light; he came only as a witness to the Light (Jesus). The true Light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1: 7-9) And Jesus is that true Light whose earthly life, physical death on the cross and triumphant resurrection from the dead gives light, life and eternal salvation to all who believe in Him as their only Savior and Lord!
We who have received and believed the same message proclaimed by John the Baptizer have now also become God’s messengers. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again…All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5: 14-20)
During this season of Advent, the roadwork God is doing is in our hearts. He is preparing the Royal Highways of our hearts – making them straight, level and “ready” – for His triumphal Second Coming. This “road work” is absolutely necessary! Come Lord Jesus – Come Quickly! Amen!
See you in church this weekend!
Blessings in Christ,