Summary: John the Baptist prepares for the coming of Christ.
Preparing the Way
Ben Franklin once said: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” While we all know it is important, sometimes we fail to do it. In his book The Survivors Club Ben Sherwood investigates why some people survive tragic accidents and others do not. He references a rule called the 10-80-10 rule which states: in any crisis situation 80 percent of people freeze up and become like statues. 10 percent of people have a plan and take appropriate actions to increase their chances for survival and 10 percent of people panic and are counter productive acting in such a way to harm themselves and others. Sherwood talks about the people who survive near death experiences by preparing to survive. What he noticed through interviewing survivors of cancer, assault, fires, plane crashes and various other tragedies is that very few things have no possibility of survival and often times the difference between those who live and those who die are that those who lived were people who expected to live. Take for example a plane crash: a lot of people do not listen to the stewardess while she is explaining emergencies procedures because they feel “if we crash we are all dead so why bother” and they have a fatalistic attitude which prevents them from preparing. While those who prepared themselves for what to do in the event of an emergency had a much better chance of survival. He basically points out that often times the difference between dying and surviving is not the situation but the preparation.
In Luke 9 Jesus has a number of people come to Him and ask to follow Him and Jesus turns them away. The men wanted to be His disciples but they were not prepared for it. Jesus says in verse 62: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Preparation is an important part of our adventure with God. If we are going follow Him and serve Him we have to be prepared. One of the things that made Jesus so effective is that He was always prepared to love. You see no matter how nice or how friendly you are as a person, love is not our default mode. If you want to treat people with the love of Jesus you have to prepare yourself to love. Turn to Luke chapter 3. If you need to prepare to be a follower of Christ, what does that look like? How do we prepare to become disciples of Jesus?
Lk 3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— Lk 3:2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. Lk 3:3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Our text begins in around 29 A.D. We know this because Luke tells us. Can you see why historians love Luke? He doesn’t just begin with the story he starts off by nailing down the when the story begins by connecting the date with the people who were in power. Luke starts developing a chronological timeline by listing seven specific rulers both political and religious both national and local. Luke doesn’t just tells us the story, he gives us details so we can investigate it for ourselves. Knowing the starting point for Jesus ministry enables us to verify the historical accuracy of what Luke is reporting.
Lk 3:4 As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Lk 3:5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. Lk 3:6 And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’ ”
John the baptist provides us with a wonderfully simple message: the kingdom of God is coming, here’s how you can prepare. Now this is important information. If you weren’t paying attention before you should now. If a tornado was coming towards your house and someone told you: this is what you must do in order to live, then you might stop to pay attention. Luke tells us how to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God so that we can be a part of it.
Jesus coming is so important that God sends someone in advance to help prepare the way. In the ancient world before a King traveled constructions crews would go out and prepare the road. They would clear away rocks, fill potholes, and straighten out places where the veered. This is what John did for Jesus. He prepared the road through preaching about repentance and the coming messiah. John the Baptist’s job was to get people ready for Jesus ministry. He got to be the herald of the coming of the kingdom of God.