So this John came, this unexpected, radical, and fiery man appeared in the wild—burst into the middle of the scene. His voice boomed before the stage lights even flickered. A raw and forthright man who didn’t curry favor or kowtow to anyone. John declared the kingdom of God was on its way. Make preparations. Be ready.
Long ago when a royal entourage approached a city or village, a group traveled ahead to remove the obstacles and barriers. Their job? To open and smooth the road for the king’s arrival.Remember our central theme as we move through Mark? Watch Jesus?
Through the walls of their mothers' wombs, John watched Jesus. John was the messenger even in utero; he leaped in excitement and announced the coming arrival of God’s final revelation. God sent John as a forerunner, a harbinger, and a new voice in a culture and to a people who hadn’t heard a “word from the Lord” in over four hundred years. God sent John to prepare the way, to make straight the paths for the Word (Logos) to come. John did the good work God prepared in advance for him to do.Friends, John understood who he was and who he was not.
He elevated Jesus and proclaimed him above all. John states that he wasn't worthy to untie Jesus' sandals—a slave’s job. John didn’t employ a self-demeaning or self-deprecating or falsely humble attitude. He stated the truth. John told them and us: What I do is temporary and partial, but this One who comes after me will do something eternal and complete in you. I will start something, this preparatory repentance, but he will finish it; the Holy Spirit does the lasting work.John understood his role, his purpose in the strategy of the kingdom, and he proclaimed the message given to him and it wasn't a pleading or begging message. Repent. Turn. Forgiveness is on its way.
Like John, we need to understand our role, our purpose in the kingdom.
What is our message today?
Ask the hard questions. Have we made this message about us or him? Are we preparing the way for him or ourselves? Are we removing obstacles so people can find him or are we rolling hurdles onto the highway? Are we telling people with certainty who we are not and who he most certainly is? Are we proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor? Are we telling people about the deep rest of God? About the sweet grace that covers shame? About the blood of Christ that absorbs sin?If we have been called by God, then each of us should proclaim the imminence of the kingdom and the eminence of Jesus.
Just like John.