John the Baptizer On Mission
by Dan Kidd
"Prepare the way for the Lord." This was John the Baptizer's central, animating theme. The Gospel of John introduces the ministry of John the Baptist by way of an encounter he had with the Jewish religious leaders who were asking, "just who did he think he was?" I imagine we are meant to receive this as a loaded inquiry; Loaded with accusation, almost certainly, but also with curiosity, and perhaps even a little concern that he might actually be the anointed prophet, the return of Elijah, their people had been waiting for so long. The disheveled, locust-eating preacher did not likely meet their standards for the type of person the Lord would use to finally bring salvation to Israel. They may have felt it best to shut this problem down.
But if they had any concerns that this baptizing preacher was going to claim himself to be God's anointed one (Messiah), John would have none of that. John knew, and wanted everyone else to know, that he was not the Messiah. Instead, he was set to the task of preparing the people for the imminent arrival of the one already standing among them--the one whose sandal straps the Pharisees were unworthy of tying (in case they wondering). John was committed to centering the world's focus on Jesus--the hope of the world and long-awaited saving King of Israel.
Last week we ended the season of Advent--where we joined the Church in a spirit of anticipation for Jesus; A season where we tuned our souls to welcome, with open arms, our King and his Kingdom. Though Advent is especially apt for this preparatory posture, there's no season where we cannot ask the Holy Spirit to make way for Christ Jesus. What's more, we're invited to participate in John's mission in the world: making Jesus famous, baptizing in the names of the Triune God, and guiding each other back into the care and will of our Good Shepherd.
As you reflect on this past Advent season, or over this last week, in what ways have you seen the way of the Lord being made? In your life? In the people around you? As we conclude this year today, and you look forward to the year ahead, in what ways would you like to see paths made clear for the King and his Kingdom to come?
PRAYER JOURNAL: To begin your daily worship today, grab a pen and paper and write out a prayer to God. Not sure what to write? Try using ACTS to frame your prayer. Begin with adoration for who God is. Then move on to confession – being real about where you have fallen short in the last day or two. Give thanks to God for all that He gives (including forgiveness for the sin you just confessed!). And then finish with supplication – with your prayer requests to God. When you are done, tuck this away somewhere (so you can read it later and see how God has answered your prayers) and then move into hearing from God through His Word.