Preparing the Way?
Merciful Lord, You so often give when I ask, reveal when I seek, open when I knock. How great You are!
Read Mark 1:1-8
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Lord. Who prepared the way for the Lord in your life?
Mark launches his energetic, fast-moving narrative with an announcement guaranteed to grab his listeners’ attention. Echoing the first words of Genesis, and linking John’s action with a cluster of other Old Testament scriptures (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1; Exod. 23:20), he describes the identity of the coming one. He is Jesus (a common name until the second century, meaning “the Lord is salvation”), Christ (a title meaning “the anointed one” or “Messiah”), the Son of God. Mark’s use of the word “gospel” is also no accident. It represented good news announcing some significant event which made a change in world history, and the OT Hebrew verb means the advent of God’s kingly rule, the advent of his salvation.
With no explanation of either Jesus’ or John’s antecedents, it is clear from the outset that the coming of a king is being heralded and that John has a special role in preparing for his arrival. John is abruptly introduced, dressed in a way reminiscent of Elijah, preaching a message of repentance calling the people back to God. John does so in an area rich with historical meaning for the Jews. Jacob had crossed the Jordan to meet Esau; Joshua had led the people across the Jordan into the Promised Land; and Elisha’s and Elijah’s ministries were based there. The desert also had spiritual meaning as their place of wandering over forty years. It had contemporary political significance as the boundary between East and West, likely therefore to have been closely watched by the occupying forces of Rome. There was no better place to preach and baptize than in the place where political tensions, past sacred memories, and future hopes met. Jesus still comes today into such places, calling us, too, to be in them, preparing the way for his coming.
Pray for places and people where there are political tensions, for the coming of Jesus and his kingdom, and for those who prepare his way.
King Jesus, I want to be like John the Baptist, pointing others to You. May I be obedient like John and faithful to my calling.
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