January 14 | Luke 3:1-14
Prepare the Way
by Mary Alice McGinnis
Over the past few weeks, we have been watching the “Alone” series on Netflix. This “reality” series is a competition between ten people who are all dropped into some remote, dangerous location in the world, miles away from any other humans. They are alone with limited supplies, no food, and only their survival skills.
After being alone for many, many weeks, one man suddenly found something lodged in his right eye. He was tired and weary from sleeplessness nights, frigid temperatures, and a weakened body because of the lack of food. But now his attention was quickly turned away from his daily survival to the pain in his eye.
Using the camera as a mirror, he discovered that every inch of his face was covered in dirt and soot. He had been so focused on building a shelter, finding food, and staying warm, keeping his face clean was the last thing on his mind. And he had no mirror. He had no one around to tell him, “Hey, your face is dirty.” Now he had dirt in his eye.
I was pondering this scene as I read today’s scripture. Before Jesus began His ministry, everyone was going about their business as usual. Then John the Baptist enters the scene.
He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the Way for the Lord . . .’”
John the Baptist lived in desolation in the desert, wore clothing made of camel hair and ate wild locust. How did this strange man prepare the way for Jesus?
Luke says, John went about “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Repentance is a complete changing of mind, decision, and direction. John called to the “brood of vipers,” and those who were “self-reliant” on their heritage, to turn around and see the truth. They needed saving! He told the tax collectors and soldiers that they needed to change their ways. Each of us needs to hear the truth of the error of our ways and turn our desires in a new direction.
How did this prepare the way for Jesus?
If John’s message was only a message of repentance and needing to turn around, how soon would we despair? We quickly realize that as hard as we try, we always fall back into our old ways.
Repentance, like a mirror, shows us our desperate need.
Forgiveness is being cleansed and liberated from that bondage of sin.
Without looking into a mirror, we cannot see the cleansing that we need from our Savior.
Just like the man who did not know his face needed washed, we ignore our need for cleansing. We get caught up in our self-reliant coping strategies, chasing after what we think we need, denying the dire truth of our situation—that we are in deep trouble. We need the power of Jesus to break us free.
Why did Jesus need anyone to prepare the way for Him? Isn’t He God? Why does God need anyone to go ahead of Him to prepare the way?
Because He chooses to use US! That is the beauty of our God. He not only comes to rescue us all, He also chooses to use ordinary people (maybe even a little strange) like us in His plan!
Where is God calling you to open your heart in repentance and receive His cleansing forgiveness today?
Where does He want to use you as His voice calling out to someone else in need of His love and forgiveness?
Lord, I know how deeply in need of repentance I am. Show me where my heart has turned away from You. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit’s power. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Thank you, that I can know the cleansing power of Your forgiveness, bought with Your precious blood.
Use ordinary me to prepare the way for You to work in the lives of others today.