It is nearing the Easter season, and as I think about what God wishes to place on each of your hearts this Easter, I am drawn to the words of Luke 3:4-6.
Wait a minute, you say, Shouldn’t you be taking us a few chapters farther in the Gospel of Luke? Something like Luke 22? Luke 3 marks the beginning of Jesus’ ministry!
True enough, but as I contemplated this same question, I was overcome with the conviction that this is exactly where the Easter story began! You see, Jesus’ death and resurrection would mean absolutely nothing to us if the hearts of the people were not prepared to receive this glorious gift!
And preparation of hearts was the task given to Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. To him was given the task to “Prepare the way of the Lord”, and with Jesus’ final command to us, to “go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19, NIV2), preparing the way of the Lord becomes our task as well!
It makes sense, really. We are told that no one comes to the Father except that they are convicted of their sin through the Holy Spirit: “…for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…” (John 16:7-8, NKJV)
Thus, it is absolutely not our job to convict our unbelieving brothers and sisters of their sin. Rather, it is the job of the Holy Spirit, the “Helper”!
Not convinced? Let’s take John the Baptist as our example. His job was not to convict the world of their sin, but rather, to “prepare the way of the Lord”!
How, then, can we fulfill the Great Commission by preparing the way for the Holy Spirit to convict the world of the need of a Savior?
Let’s take a look at what the prophets said John the Baptist would do: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth…'” (Isa 40:3-4, NKJV).
Do we know that John succeeded in his quest?
Absolutely! Didn’t Jesus Himself say of John, “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist…” (Luke 7:28, NKJV)?
So if John was given the commission to “prepare the way of the Lord”, and if Jesus Himself said that John was the greatest prophet ever born of women, then perhaps we would do well to study his techniques!
We actually know very little about John’s ministry. We only know that he baptized in the River Jordan, that he baptized Jesus, and that he called the people to repent and to prepare their hearts for Jesus. One little glimpse into his character is given to us by his own words, however: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.“ (John 3:27-31, NKJV)
From this passage we learn one vitally important part of John’s character: He was humble! He knew his place was to prepare the way of the Lord, and he did so with all of his conviction and might.
But, you say, it is different in our day. We can’t just emerge from the wilderness and start baptizing people and calling them to repentance!
True enough. So what can we do to “prepare the way of the Lord”?
The answer to that question, my friends, can be found in the example of Jesus. Join us next Saturday, for Preparing the Way for Easter, Part 2!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the rest of the “Prepare the way for Easter” mini-series, click here.)