Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Baptism helps us ‘prepare the way of the Lord’
Based on Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6
He lived in the desert. He wore clothes made of camel’s hair, which is hot, itchy and uncomfortable for someone living in the desert. He ate locusts and wild honey. He had a long, scraggly beard. He was the last and greatest prophet who announced the arrival of the Messiah. His name was John the Baptist.
As we read the Bible, we learn God often used messengers to deliver his messages to people. In the Old Testament, the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel told the Israelites about the coming of Jesus the Messiah. They didn’t know when Jesus would arrive, but they told the people to love and honor God and love others in preparation for the Messiah’s coming.
Actually, the Israelites waited hundreds of years for Jesus the Messiah. None of the prophets or leaders in the
Old Testament, like Moses or Abraham, saw the birth of the Messiah. Yet, they always tried to be ready for his coming.
In the Gospel, John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and his forerunner – one who announces the coming of another, boldly calls people to a change of heart. People flocked to the Jordan River to listen to John. In a thunderous voice, he preached, “Change your lives and turn away from sin and selfishness; tell God you’re sorry; start to live your lives for God because Jesus has finally come to earth to teach you about God’s love.”
John’s message about Jesus is so important that all four Gospels tell us about it.
John called the people to baptism in the Jordan River. In this way, John stands between the Old Testament and the New
Testament pointing the way to Jesus. When John baptized the people in the river, it was a sign of their willingness to change and begin a new life showing love for God and others by their words and actions.
Our baptism is a sacrament through which our sin is taken away by the power of the Holy Spirit and we become members of the Body of Christ, the church. By virtue of our baptism, we are to “prepare the way of the Lord” and call others to become faithful followers of Jesus.
It’s the second week of Advent and one week closer to Christmas. Jesus is coming! Are you getting your heart ready for Jesus? Don’t forget confession. Be watchful, prayerful, good, loving and forgiving. “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”