Donald R. Elly, M. Div.
John the Baptist is, according to Luke’s author, a Prophet who is not only God’s spokesperson, but also the one who is PREPARING THE WAY FOR THE LORD. In speaking up for the Lord John is following in the footsteps of the prophet he quotes, Isaiah. Just as Isaiah declared the captives of Babylon free to go back home to Israel; so John is declaring that God is preparing the people to receive the gift of salvation in Jesus.
What does it mean to prepare the way? All over Des Moines area before the onset of winter the roads are being prepared (repaired). Potholes are being filled. Entire roadways are being torn up and repaved in order to make the roadways safe and keep people whole. For God’s infrastructure project to succeed, several things are required. And here is where John the Baptist moves beyond just speaking for God and makes clear the changes needed if we are to be those who help all humanity see God’s salvation.
First, the people then, and we now, must show that they are changing their hearts and lives. John’s Baptism is an act, similar to the ritual act of bathing before worship, that indicates a willingness to change the direction of our lives and turn toward the Lord—i.e. “Let the Lord lead.”
Second we must want God to forgive our sins—straighten up that which is crooked and make smooth the rough places where we have been blazing our own path and departed from God’s way of salvation. This message is not a word delivered from the temple, but from the wilderness and deserts of our lives where we can easily miss the Lord’s way. We wander off the path that the Lord has already laid out and made clear from the very beginning of creation. Luke goes to great lengths to make clear that this message takes place in history and is greater than any of the other authorities we often listen to as guides. 1 Are you prepared to let the Lord lead, to forgive and receive the gift God offers?
1 Justo L. Gonza; ez. Luke, pg 183 places John the Baptist Ministry in the context of 8 historical references that John made clear that John’s preaching happened between 28-29 CE. Read vs. 1-2.
December 9, 2018; Cycle C 2nd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40: 1-5; Luke 1:68-79; Phil. 1:3-11; * Luke 3: 1-6