Mark 1:1-5 (NLT)
“This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger (Greek: an angel) ahead of you, and he will prepare (Greek: by external equipping, and internal fitness; by implication “to construct, build or make) your way. (See Malachi 3:1). He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare (Greek: Make ready) the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him?’ (See Isa 40:3)
This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.”
In the Gospel according to Mark 1: 1-5 we sense the excitement of Mark’s literary interpretation of the life of Jesus, beginning with the unfolding of the Old Testament prophecy as recorded in Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1; the promise of salvation and the announcement of the coming of the Messiah by John the Baptist – “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’”. Mark writes with a sense of urgency to Christian Gentiles, with the ultimate purpose and theme to present and defend Jesus’ universal call to discipleship. Mark starts this theme with the forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist, who is the “predicted one”, who prepares the way of the Lord. John prepares the way by calling people to repentance, a call to turn away from sin and turn to God for forgiveness of their sins. Repentance is first, followed by baptism by water. John understood that his baptism would be an outward sign of an inward change, but the One that would come after him, the One whose sandals he was not worthy to stoop down and untie, would baptize hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah prophesied that God would send a messenger to prepare the way; the word prepare in this text has two meanings in the Greek language. First it means an external equipping, and an internal fitness. And it also means to make ready, for Jesus’ coming. Thus, we see John equipping the people internally with the confession of sin, equipping them externally with the baptism of water, and then making the way for Jesus, ready through his witness. John the Baptist was the greatest New Testament messenger for Christ. When he came to tell people about Jesus, the light of the world, he did so by declaring his knowledge of Jesus.
We see a similar call for preparation during this Lenten Season. The believer is called to prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus through a 40-day experience of daily prayer, fasting, repentance of sins, providing alms or charity to others, and more… In essence, we are allowing God to prepare us inwardly, while we imitate Jesus during his journey to the cross. In so doing, we too become his witnesses.
Our Father and our faithful God, thank you for this season of preparation. Thank you for counting us worthy to walk with you daily and experience your forgiveness, your love and your resurrection power. We thank you for Jesus; for the sacrifice of your only begotten son; that we may experience your eternal glory. We pray for the forgiveness of our sins, and ask that you equip our hearts, our minds and strengthen our will to be bold witnesses for you in the courtroom of this world. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
Call to Action
In this Lenten Season, we are called to be active witnesses for Christ. During court proceedings, witnesses are more than onlookers or spectators. They help determine the outcome of a case. The same is true of our witness for Christ. We are called to be active participants in a matter of absolute importance – spreading the gospel truth of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. To prepare the way for him, John the Baptist was the voice of one calling in the desert. Our voices can be heard on our jobs, in our communities, church, and among family and friends. We can be active witnesses for Christ, telling them about the reality of Jesus in our lives. I guess you could say that we have been summoned in this Lenten Season before the courtroom of this world.
Submitted by: Rev. Andrea E. Young, Esq.