Today’s Reading: Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 3:1-18; John 1:19-28
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. – John 1:6-8
God had a plan for John – a very specific purpose for his life. John’s obedience and decision to walk in God’s plan for his life made a difference in the lives of many people and in the acceptance of Jesus when He arrived. John knew God’s purpose, knew what God had called him to do – He didn’t know every detail or the timing of God’s plan but he knew there was a plan. John accepted this calling on his life with great humility, even when those around him desired for him to be more than who he was.
This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.”
“Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”
“No,” he replied.
“Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”
“Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am the voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’” – John 1:19-23
In those days, when a King or man of great importance was going to visit an area of the kingdom, they would send men out before him to prepare the way. There were not nice paved roads like we have now, so they would take time to travel the path and clear the road of any rocks or fallen trees, perhaps trimming back branches that would hinder a chariot or horse. Their purpose was to make sure there was nothing blocking the way of this man of great importance.
John the Baptist had a similar role – to “clear the way for the Lord’s coming” or make straight the way of the Lord; to make sure there was nothing blocking the way of this man of great importance.
We do a similar “clearing” here at our house when we know that company is coming. It is that moment when we look around and see through the eyes of someone else what our home looks like. When it is just us, we become comfortable. When company is coming, we notice the pair of shoes in the living room; that the couch cushions need straightened, chairs have not been pushed back under the table, shower curtains need closed and blinds need opened. We scramble around the house, clearing and preparing for our special guests.
One day we were shopping at Bergner’s and saw a young mother from our church with her arm in a sling. She explained that she broke her arm when she tripped over the toys of her 3 year old. Her son didn’t do anything wrong, he was simply playing with his toys, yet the scattered objects had hindered his mother’s ability to walk across the room unharmed.
I feel God challenging me to take a look at my life through His eyes; to honestly look and see if there is some “clearing” I need to do. Are there things in my life that are blocking the way of what God wants to accomplish? Are there attitudes I have become comfortable with that I need Jesus to shine His light on and expose? Is there anything that is not clearly a sin but hindering someone else’s walk? Is there a possibility that the conditions of my life will cause someone else to stumble? Perhaps what I need to give up is more than just chocolate or coffee but something bigger that is cluttering my walk with Jesus.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. – Hebrews 12:1-12
I know that, just like John the Baptist, God has a plan for my life – a specific purpose – just like He has for your life. I want to obediently and humbly walk in that plan. Lord, shine your light on my life and show me what I need to clear away. I do not want to hold tightly to anything that might block your way or hinder someone else’s walk. Strengthen my hands to take a new grip on you instead of holding onto something I need to let go of. Strengthen my weak knees and mark out a straight path for my feet. Amen.