“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins”
John, who was to become the Baptist, had just been born. As the community gathered for the naming ceremony his father Zechariah received back his powers of speech and prophesied over the baby. John’s mission was to go before the Saviour to prepare the way for Him. His message would be that salvation would come only through the forgiveness of sins – and that in Jesus this forgiveness and salvation was a present reality.
In practical terms repentance, although it is vital, is not enough. We may repent but someone – that Someone being God – has to both forgive us and do something to take away from us the guilt and the stain of sin. As the Psalmists pleaded and recognised,
• “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
• “But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:4)
God’s great desire was to save us from our sin and its terrible consequence of eternal separation from Him. Here again His object is stressed in an unmistakeable way. His primary purpose in the gift of His Son Jesus was to provide a salvation through forgiveness. As we shall see this could not happen through His overlooking sin but by facing and dealing with it in a new, remarkable and righteous way. It would take Jesus to the cross.
Why should my sins be placed on Jesus?
Father, You provided forgiveness and now You invite me to repent! Help me to walk into this great Love. Amen.