For this is he who has spoken by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“’The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way of the Lord;

Make his paths straight.’”

Matthew 3: 3

 

John’s message was straight forward and rather simple, for he called upon people to repent. He pointed them toward God and to the awful difference that existed between the way that they were living and the standard of righteous life that was set out for all people by the Lord. Interestingly, John went out into the wilds of the countryside to proclaim this message from God. He left the populated centers behind and found his audience out among the open spaces and the scattered villages, long-distance travelers, and assorted wanders that he encountered in those less hospitable locales. His first and primary appeal was to the people at large and not to the powerful or the prominent. John didn’t start out speaking with religious or with governmental leaders, and his message wasn’t directed at corrupt institutions or at their ungodly leaders.

 

John was called by God to go to people who were not so different from any of us, and he was directed to call upon us to turn to the God of our creation as our only valid hope for salvation from the ruinous path that we and that all of the rest of humanity had taken. Although John went out into the literal desert places to start to preach the Lord’s call to return to Him and to the truth of His word, he was restating the words that Isaiah had set out long before when he spoke about God’s promise of restoration and of peace with Him that was given then to the people of Israel and promised in extension to all of the world. In Isaiah we see the idea of wilderness as depicting the vast wasteland of human souls and all of the barriers that we have built up that separate us from God and from doing His righteous and redemptive work in our world. Isaiah speaks of mountains made flat and valleys being raised up, of other forms of impediment gone so that God’s glory is revealed to all of the world.

 

This is done through the lives of people just like us. God works in and through His people to bring this same message of hope through repentance to the world around us. We all reside in a barren landscape like that of Isaiah’s and john’s wilderness of the soul, and every one of us rubs shoulders on a daily basis with people who dwell in the harsh and bitter lands of that wild place. Our first calling is to personal repentance as we hear God’s voice and respond to His Gospel of righteous hope, peace, and love by turning our lives in full measure to Christ and to serving Him. Then we are to turn to our neighbors and to others that we encounter and that we seek out and reveal to them the glory of the Lord as it is made visible and tangible in our redeemed and transformed manner of thinking and living. Christ calls to each of us in our own wilderness, and then He sends us forth to do this crying out to a lost and a needy world. As Christ sends, so we must respond like john did with all of our mind, heart, and soul.

The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

John 1: 29

 

Oh, to look upon Jesus with this passion, to see Him as the answer for all that has gone wrong with my life and for everything that I have done, am about to do, and will ever contemplate doing that is contrary to God’s will. The picture that I have of the scene from this verse is of Jesus walking along a road that is very much like my path through the day. He is walking toward the place where I am living and toward the way that I am living, too. Christ comes to us. He is not passively waiting and watching, and the Spirit of Christ is very active in our world, for He does not want anyone to fail to receive the opportunity to know Him. God has promised that He never leaves any of us alone.

 

Jesus came to set every person free from the oppressive hold that evil has on our hearts; He came to grant the freedom that we need to be close to God, the Father, forever, and He came to release us from the imprisonment of our daily fears, doubts, and shame. The entire burden of our hurtful and damaging actions, thoughts, and intent is carried off of our souls by Christ. This is freedom of the truest sort. This is the one sure form of restoration that exists in this life. In Jesus we can find a peace that soaks through the hardened shell of living to the center of our beings.

 

We can to be like John the Baptist, recognizing Jesus for who He is and accepting the blessing of what that means. Here is a lamb, but not any ordinary one. For here He is, the lamb whose sacrifice changes everything, and beholding Him, we are made totally new. So, as we experience life with Christ, we should want to share this truth with our world, and we can share it with John’s passionate joy, for here with me, always walking along my life-path, is my Lord and my Savior, Jesus.