Text: Isaiah 40:1-5, Mark 1:1-8
If John the Baptist were a member of your family, he’d be that loud uncle you invite to holiday gatherings with the secret hope that he’ll decline. John was different, to put it nicely. He ate bugs, wore clothes made of camel hair, and talked (loudly) of radical ideas.
But if you got to know John, you’d quickly realize something important about the man: he was authentic. John was not radical for radical’s sake—he didn’t do these things for shock value or to garner attention from others. John lived differently than everyone else because, unlike everyone else, his single mission was made clear from the moment of his birth: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77). His job was to proclaim Jesus—the God-made-man who was also his cousin— and John devoted his life to Him, down to the his choice of “natural” attire and “organic” cuisine.
John knew Jesus was the Messiah before most anyone else even understood who He was. John obeyed God’s call on his life to prepare the people for Christ’s coming, fulfilling prophecies Isaiah made about him long before his existence and those his father Zechariah made at his birth. John’s role as the Preparer—as the Way-Paver—was so important that Jesus Himself said of him, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28).
I wonder if there were times John lamented his unconventional calling. It couldn’t have been easy. Did he ever wish he could pass the torch to another—let them be the crazy uncle for a while? We don’t know what John prayed and felt in the quieter moments of his wild life, but we do know he was faithful to his Lord. In John 5:35, Jesus calls him a “burning and shining lamp.” Isn’t that what we each long to be—a light for Jesus? What a tragic yet stunning honor it must have been for John to sit in jail awaiting his own execution, knowing he was giving his all for the man he loved more than life (Mark 6).
You and I may not make our home in the woods or be able to stomach the thought of locusts for lunch, but our souls can be just as sold-out for Jesus as John’s was. We, too, can be Way-Pavers for Christ in the hearts of those around us. Like John, we can prepare the way of the Lord, shining the gospel light in the dark places and pointing people to Jesus in every season.
Our lives may look strange—maybe even a little crazy. People may whisper about our unconventional ways and unapologetic joy after we leave the room. But, friends, we know the Messiah! We know the One who is Himself our salvation and hope. God, give us the courage and grace to act like it.
For an added layer of worship during this sweet season of adoration and expectation, we’ve created a Spotify playlist for Advent 2014! You can find the complete SheReadsTruth | O Come Let Us Adore Him playlist at this link, or listen to today’s track on the player below. Enjoy!