John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Open Your Bible

Isaiah 40:1-5, Mark 1:1-8

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!


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41 thoughts on "John the Baptist Prepares the Way"

  1. Heather says:

    I have been studying John the Baptist this evening and I can’t emphasize enough the insight and joy I find when I slow down and absorb all that’s happening when reading the Bible. Thanks for this great word.

  2. Kasey Tuggle says:

    Lord, give me the courage, grace, and heart to live for you! To show others love who have hurt me. To shine Jesus to them! This is not my life. It’s yours Lord. Help me live like it.

  3. Bethany says:

    We should be living our lives like John. It is so great to read how he had such faith that he didnt care if he was “crazy!”

  4. Leslie Long says:

    The note in my bible for John 5:35 says, “Jesus’ characterization of the Baptist as a ‘burning and shining lamp’ echoes Psalm 132:17, where it said that God has ‘prepared a lamp’ for his anointed. John the Baptist was a ‘lamp’, but not the light (John 1:7-9)…”

    John 1:7-9 says, “He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭7-9‬ ESV)

    Thankful for the Light of the world and that God has called each of us to be a lamp on a post, not hidden, but for all to see so that Jesus, the Light, can be made known to the world. “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matt 5:15)

    This then takes me back to Isaiah 40:5 where it says, “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and ALL flesh shall see it together…” — which my bible notes is “not a private viewing for the remnant but out in front of the whole world. From this promise of God’s presence flow all of God’s gracious promises. ”

    John the Baptist wasn’t afraid to expose the news and truth of the coming of Christ for the whole world to hear about it. I continue to pray each new day for the courage to put my lamp, which carries the light of Christ, on a stand for all to see, that His goodness and glory might be revealed.

  5. Antimony says:

    I’ve been so discouraged today. Regardless of how much I know that my focus must be on pleasing God … I still want people to like and approve of me. Especially my parents! And yet I feel like I can never measure up to their expectations! I know they love me. And they want the best for me. But whenever I leave, I feel like such a failure. I need to re-focus my mind on Christ. He has to be first. He is the Light in my darkness. And He gives me the opportunity to be light to others!

    1. stinav96 says:

      Praying for you today, Antimony! I know how much our parents' approval means. And now, being a parent, I see how hard it is to want so much for your children but not beat them down with the good you want for them. Thank you for highlighting that for me today. And I will be praying that as you focus on Christ, your parents will see Him in you and trust Him with you. As I was told by several fellow SRTers the other day, you are a daughter of the One True King! You are fully accepted in Him! Thank you for your heart to love Him and respect your parents!

  6. Melody says:

    There's that saying that goes "you may be the only Bible some people ever read." May we radiate God's light and love this Christmas season so that when people "read" us, they read about Jesus.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Bless you, Paige. I can feel your struggle come through your words. I am heading into my last semester of nursing school. I have had encouragement from all sides, and felt God’s hand in many things along the way. But sometimes I feel like I have been scrambling for three years to achieve nothing. I could have done more for the kingdom by being on the mission field I am sure. I don’t know if this was where God wanted me. All of this has taught me to pray and seek Him. I am leaning not on my own understanding. I hope.

  8. Anna says:

    Unconventional ways. Unapologetic joy. Oh, how I long to be the kind of woman that shines brightly for Him in a way that people notice…and are changed because of it.

  9. Bridget says:

    Figuratively as in the wilderness the people were in… Lost.

  10. Bridget says:

    I wonder what the people of Isaiah’s time thought of his prophecy? Many years later, there WAS a voice crying in the wilderness…literally and figuratively.

  11. mjasi253 says:

    So helpful to read this. I was feeling discouraged because some coworkers were giving me a hard time recently about not joining in on something I felt was inappropriate. I’m a people-pleaser by nature, so saying no and standing my ground is hard, and I hate wondering if people are talking about me. But John did all of that…and more. I’ve never fully realized before how his life can parallel ours. Thank you for this study!

  12. Shawna says:

    I oftentimes get annoyed with the glitz and glam that surrounds this time of year. I mean… Didn’t Jesus come to us in a manger? Doesn’t he sit with the prostitutes and hang with the beggars? I can sometimes feel like John, as I choose to not partake in the glamour of this grand event. And at the same time, I struggle to not lavish too many gifts on the ones I love the most. Instead of focusing so much on the ones nearest and dearest, I’m striving to focus on all those who surround me during this time of year. I know we all need to see Jesus, and I just hope to shine when I need to most!

  13. Sarah says:

    Hi Paige, I will be praying for the Lord to burn in your heart (in an inescapable way) what His desire is for you. Having gone through a long & difficult educational road myself, I know it is exhausting, & there are so many other fun things we could be doing. However, being faithful to Jesus is so much more important. I pray you’ll have clarity in deciding, and strength to persevere in what He calls you to do! He is faithful & He will finish what He’s started in you!!

  14. Beth Warner says:

    I’m a little relieved in reading these posts this morning,, that I’m not the only one having trouble being bold like John. Although I seem to be able to “shine”at work and with my customers,,, but have a hard time talking to my son about The Lord. Why is that?? I come up empty each time. I’m so afraid I’ll blow it. I pray for for courage and boldness and discernment for each of us sisters, to pave the way to Jesus. In Jesus’ name!!! Xo

    1. April says:

      Oh Beth, I would imagine it is harder to share with your son because there is "so much more at stake", it's so very personal for you. For him to turn from Christ, is to turn away from you too because Christ is in you. While you of course want customers to see Jesus in you, you want your son along to share the path on this journey of life. May I offer a word of encouragement? You can't "blow it", it is God's "job" to win your son over. Your "job" is to love freely & be who you are in Him. Heavenly Father, please help Beth relax in You when sharing with her son. Open his eyes to see You in her. Fill her to overflowing with You & Your love, may it spill out & over all who get near her. May this be the year her son's eyes & ears are opened to understanding Your living word.

      1. Beth Warner says:

        Oh Thank you April, I so appreciate your prayer. I will continue to keep asking for open doors to talk to my sweet boy. God Bless you, xo

  15. KatSmith1026 says:

    In my Bible, the passage in Mark referenced the reading in Isaiah, & also this verse, Malachi 3:1 – “Behold, I send my messenger, & he will prepare the way before me.”
    Just wanted to share that with you all this morning. Praying courage & boldness for you, my sisters!

    1. Beth Warner says:

      Thank you, same to you Kat.:)

  16. jenadams87 says:

    "God, give us the courage and grace to act like it" Yes Lord, I don't have it in my strength.

  17. Onfaith says:

    "A burning and shining lamp" – what a way to be described and by your Savior. I love how different John was, it reminds me of a man I met a year ago. He was homeless and proclaiming God's goodness in a big way. The first words out of his mouth were, "do you know Jesus". He was bold, fearless and loud. I watched as the other folks, especially those most familiar with him, would roll their eyes and mumble that something was "wrong' with him. I can't help but think that John must of faced some of the same scrutiny. It is further proof that God uses different people and circumstances to bring us closer to Him. Just like Jesus in a manger, we would have likely imagined the one preparing the way here for Christ to be a little more delicate in his words, clean in his demeanor, attractive and gleaming with an obvious "look" of righteousness… know like the "pretty" people we all want to follow. But the reality is that John is so much on the outside like us, like our sin, on the inside…..dirty, loud and unkempt, in need of a savior. It just shows us that no matter what we have hiding inside, how we think of ourselves, what dirt the enemy tries to cover our hearts with, it can glean for Christ. We, too, can be a bright and shining light …. we don't have to "clean up" to meet Christ, to spend time with Him, even if, as today for me, just in our PJs, with hair askew and a profoundly runny nose. Jesus just wants to know that my heart is for Him too! ~ B

    1. Kelly says:

      Yes! Yes! Yes!!! Thank you for that picture!! You’re right, I think that’s exactly what today’s John would look/act like! And that’s exactly how people would treat him :( I pray for boldness and a faith like that!

    2. kristina says:

      love this!

  18. Nadia says:

    I pray that I have the courage to be a light for Christ in whatever circumstances come my way.

  19. Debbie says:

    How completely wonderful would it be to have our Lord say of us that we were lamps that burned and gave light….that we testified to the truth…..
    We actually have that opportunity.

    He is with us!

  20. Kendall_S says:

    mulling over today:

    how can i be a way-paver?

    is my own selfishness and pride getting in the way of Christ's light shining through me?

    what opportunities have i missed because of hurry or stress or single-mindedness?

    would my family describe me as a way-paver?

    do i care more about Christ's mission or my own "wants" and "needs"?




    to think over and pray through today…..

    thank you God for sending John the Baptist as a shining example of how to sell out to You and Your Son.

    1. Sheryl says:

      You put my thoughts into words….lots to ponder and act on today.

  21. drasch says:

    I wonder at John’s perseverance. He chose, every day, to be a way-paver. God, that I could have one tenth of John’s zeal for you and your Word.

  22. Kelly_Smith says:

    This message is exactly what I needed to hear today. My soul needed a boost of courage, a reason to share! I will celebrate Christmas with my extended family today. There are enough family members who need Christ to make it a mission field. I have an awkward salesman feeling around then when it comes to sharing the Gospel. Today is the day to let the "crazy uncle" in me hang out! Today is to the day to love them more than I love my pride. Today is the day to prepare the way of the Lord!

    1. stinav96 says:

      Praying for you today, Kelly! "Be strong and courageous! The Lord your God is with you wherever you go!" In Jesus' Name!

    2. Missy says:

      Kelly, I feel the same. In my time of preparation before coming here to visit family I just felt like my sole mission this Christmas was to be super bold with my brother and sister-in-law. I have no idea how that'll look (and to be honest, I'm a little nervous about how it could look), but I love this thought of "why should I care what they think about my unabashed joy when I leave the room", you know? Praying for you and others as we go boldly, like John.

      1. Kelly_Smith says:

        Thank you! Praying for you, your brother, and your SIL!

    3. Debbie says:

      Kelly, I pray for your boldness…and then for mine with my family also!

      1. Kelly_Smith says:

        Thank you! Praying for you and your family, Debbie!

    4. Beth Warner says:

      Oh my goodness Kelly, same here. But it’s mainly with my son I have that “salesman” feeling,, My Son!! Whom I love so much!! I ask The Lord to give me the right words to say, but I feel so awkward. Please pray for me sisters to have the boldness to “shine that light brightly”. I pray for courage for you too my dear. Have a wonderful day .

      1. Kelly_Smith says:

        Thank you, Beth! Praying for you and your son!!

  23. Amanda says:

    We can prepare the way for jesus by bringing new followers to him.

  24. lucy says:

    An inspiration. Nothing else matters! Seems especially poignant around Christmas time.

  25. Angela says:

    Yes, how I long to be more courageous in my faith and love for Jesus. By your grace Lord.