“He will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah
… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Suddenly, after all the prophecies, after the centuries of silence and all the waiting, something was happening. The world would have been in total ignorance of it – even the religious leaders were unaware. But on a certain day when Zechariah was on duty in the temple – having been chosen by lot to burn the incense before the Lord – the angel Gabriel appeared to him.
At one level the message that Gabriel brought was God’s answer to the prayers of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth for a child. However it was far more significant than that. Here was announced the birth of a child who would turn out to be the promised Elijah. He would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Himself.
The message that John brought was clear and simple.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2)
It was sin that had separated men and women from God. God’s solution was about to appear but there was an essential response needed from the people – individually and together they were called to recognise and repent of their sin. John warned of the judgement still to come but there were those who would not hear or respond to his message.
If it was John’s ministry to call people to repentance it was so that the Lord could exercise His ministry of salvation. This John also made clear as he taught,
- “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! “ (John 1:29)
- “He .. will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:33)
This teaching made clear the essential work and ministry of the Lord Jesus. Firstly He would take away our sin and secondly He would give to us the Holy Spirit.
Each one of us has something of the ministry of John the Baptist. For as we await the second coming of our Lord we too are called to prepare the way – by helping to ‘make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ This is what the Great Commission is all about.
Would anyone thank God for my witness?
I have a gospel to proclaim – and the sweet news of a Saviour’s birth.
Lord Jesus, please help me to treat You as Good News – not a good secret. Amen.