Scripture text for Thursday, March 18th, 2010: Luke 3:1-3:20
These passages tell the story of John the Baptist and how he was called to prepare the way for Jesus. “The word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” Until now, the people were still living under the “old” law and John was called to prepare them for the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
John was told to “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him, every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low, the crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth, and all mankind will see God’s salvation.”
Before a king made a journey to a distant country, the roads he would travel were improved. Similarly, preparation for the Messiah was made in a moral and spiritual way by the ministry of John, which focused on repentance and forgiveness of sin and the need for a Savior.
When the crowd asked, “What should we do then?” John explained that repentance is not merely a change of mind but a radical change in one’s life as a whole that especially involves forsaking sin and turning to God. He told them that if they have excess then they should share with the man who has none. He told the tax collectors not to collect more than they are required to. He told the soldiers not to extort money, accuse people falsely and to be content with their pay. In other words, “If you’re going to talk the talk, then walk the walk.”
John’s baptism represented a change of heart, which includes sorrow for sin and a determination to lead a holy life. Christ would deliver the repentant person from sin’s penalty by dying on the cross.
In these passages I see that we are called to do two things:
First, like John, we are called to prepare the way for the Lord. So what does that mean to us? First, we must ask ourselves if we have anything in our life that would hinder someone from seeing Christ in us. Does our life reflect Christ? Second, we must be willing to follow Matthew 28:19 “Go then and make disciples of all the nations”
Second, we are called to look at true repentance in our lives – which is not just a casual “Gee, I’m sorry I did that” just to repeat the action again later. Instead, repentance is a radical change in one’s life that involves forsaking sin and turning to God. It means you believe God’s Word so strongly that it promotes change in your life. As we do that, others are able to see victory where there was only hopelessness, courage and strength where there was defeat, peace in the midst of the storms of life, and forgiveness and grace where there was judgment and condemnation – which will “prepare the way of the Lord” in the lives of others.
Lord, may we be aware of the opportunities in our lives to “prepare the way” for others and may we be willing to make radical changes so our lives will glorify you.
Devotion prepared by Rhonda Ausk