In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
Christ has come and Christ will come again. Preparation for his first coming involved about 2000 years of promises and wanderings, of faithfulness and disobedience, of a promised land and exile. Miracles and angelic visitations set in motion the final movement with two miracle babies.
John the Baptist would have been just a few months older than Jesus and was preaching before Jesus began his public ministry. John was preparing people’s hearts for Jesus. He was readying them, leading them into repentance that they might be able to hear and see that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah.
We have talked about how we must be prepared for Christ’s second coming by abiding in him and loving each other. We don’t know when it will be – whether next week or next millennium, so it is really just the normal Christian life. But, consider that, in our own way, we serve as John the Baptist for the Second Coming. Jesus left us with the task of making disciples of the whole world. It’s because he wants the whole world to be part of his kingdom, whether it’s the person next door or someone on the other side of the world. He wants them all. We may not have much influence on the other side of the world, but we do on the people around us. It doesn’t mean we need to preach on the corner in downtown Sydney Mines wearing camel hair and eating honey and locusts, but it does mean we need a living faith and love God with all our heart, and soul, and strength and mind and love our neighbours as ourselves.
It can be hard to do the second without the first. Where was Zechariah when he got the news that he would be the father of John? Worshipping in the temple with people praying outside. Jesus is looking for people who will worship “in the Spirit and in the truth.” (John 4:23)
We need to be a people of worship and prayer that God may enter in and continue to transform our hearts from hearts prone to anger and bitterness to hearts overflowing with love and forgiveness. And as we become increasingly open to the work of God in our lives, may we pray for the work of God in our communities and in our neighbour’s lives. May they too be ready for the King’s return.
Let us pray.
Lord, we give thanks for the people you sent into our lives who have led us to you in faith. We give thanks for those who have helped us grow in that faith and each day may we learn to love and serve you and our neighbours more fully and more deeply. Help us to turn from anything that keeps us from you and may you help us be people who can help lead others to you, from the way we live and the way we love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Who was key to your coming to faith?
What practices have you found to be most helpful in your continuing growth in faith?
Continue to pray about God’s work in your community and how you may be a part of it.