Summary: People are best prepared to receive Jesus when His servants are helping them to prepare
Last month, we paused to honor our graduates here. For each one of those young men and women, there are some stories of moms and dads giving each other high fives, lots of smiles, lots of sharing of joy. A lot of teachers had a hand in that diploma. We have many of you in our congregation. Parents, teachers, you’re in the preparation business. You are involved in preparing the next generation of adults to face life.
You’ve heard of, maybe you use, a tax preparer. That’s the person who emotionally prepares you for hearing how much you’re going to owe the IRS this year!
The point is, we appreciate and depend on people who specialize in preparing us.
Zechariah looked at his newborn son, who would come to be known as John the Baptizer (JB), and said, “...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,” The main purpose of John’s life was to prepare the way for Jesus. There’s a model for a good preparer in JB.
Isn’t it interesting that the work of JB is described in Mal like this:
"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."
Today is Father’s Day. Dads, guess what: you’re in the preparation business. My kids, and yours, are growing up in a world that has more hazards than any we’ve ever seen. You and I have just so much time to give them the tools to make it. We ought to have a strong sense of urgency to prepare them for the days ahead.
We’re going to look at JB and the role all of us have as preparers, but I want to start by pointing out how this work is inherent especially to us as dads.
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Does an arrow need to be well-aimed? (William Tell) Then so do our children! Not enough can be said to us dads today to stress the vital role we have in preparing our children to enter the world – just like a warrior shooting arrows. A lot is depending on dads. We’re in the preparing business.
The man we’re looking at today wasn’t married, to our knowledge. He was taking on an even larger responsibility to help prepare the Jewish nation as a whole for the earthly ministry of Jesus. As we look at John, 2 things are going to happen:
1. Some of you here haven’t accepted Jesus. I’m glad you’re here today! This is the right place for you to be! You belong here! We want to enable you to grow in relationship with Jesus; we want to attract and win you to Him! So, hopefully we’re preparing you to meet Him.
2. For those who’ve already accepted Him, we need to keep learning how to effectively prepare people for Him. We need to learn how to get the message to people now so that they’ll be prepared for Him when He comes again!
Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than JB” I’d like to be classed with a man like that. I want to be a good preparer. 4 qualities of a Good preparer...
I. Accepts His Place before God (v19-23, 27,30)
He’s hairy, and a tasteless dresser. He lives on natural food, out in the desert. He’s immersing people in the river, bellowing out how they need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness. Since he’s stepping in on the religious leaders’ territory, they naturally want to know who this guy is. So they send out a contingent of priests and Levites. “Who are you?” John’s answers make it clear that he accepts the place God has given him. First by saying…
A. I am not...
One of the first ways we can accept our place before God is to accept who we are not. That’s a good start, and it’s a good thing that John had it as he began to become very popular among the people.
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ."