“Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.” Mark 1:3
If you were telling the story of Jesus where would you begin? The gospel writers use the two logical choices open to us. Matthew and Luke start with the birth of Christ and Mark and John begin with his baptism and the beginning of his adult ministry. All four gospel writers, as they handle Jesus entrance into a life of healing and teaching give some tribute to the role that John the Baptist played in preparing the world for the Savior’s work.
In Israel there was already an awareness in some circles that they were living in momentous times. Some scholars had focused their attention on the time prophecies of Daniel and other scriptures pointing the Christ and had deduced that the time for the Messiah was upon them. John the Baptist was a part of this group only he had a special part to play. From conception God had filled him with the Holy Spirit preparing him to be the prophet that would proclaim the Messiah’s entrance. In obedience to this calling John began appealing that the people enter into a work of repentance cleansing their hearts of willful disobedience in preparation for the Savior’s ministry. John was Jesus’ herald going before him calling out, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.”
John’s faithfulness in fulfilling his Spirit directed calling resulted in a wave of rededication to God sweeping across the land of Palestine. Because of his faithfulness Israel was better able to recognize and receive the Savior entrance.
At the end of prophetic history, as God is preparing the world once again for the advent of the Savior, once again he will call upon a people to prepare the world. Once again his Spirit will empower his messenger to do the work of repentance and cleansing necessary for his people to stand ready to recognize and receive the Savior.
I believe that even now God is calling us, you and me, to do this work. If we, like John are faithful, our call to the world will be, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.” And “’Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17.