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Preparing the Way
Mark 1:1-8 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
John the Baptizer
1-3The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
Watch closely: I'm sending my preacher ahead of you;
He'll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God's arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
4-6John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
7-8As he preached he said, "The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will change your life. I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out."
Preparing the Way
John “the Baptizer” was commissioned to be the one to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, the physical incarnation of God. The preparations that John made tell us much about how we should prepare for the second coming of Jesus, the coming of the Kingdom in its fullness. We, as followers of Jesus, are called to make the same kind of preparations that are spoken of in Isaiah. John’s appearance and habits were markedly different from the culture of those he was commissioned to prepare. In many ways we are called to be counter-cultural to the world we are preparing as well, sometimes it may be in the way we dress or the resources we use. Other times it is the way we respond to circumstances or the way we go about our daily lives that gives people pause about who we are and what we are trying to do.
To be sure, the most direct correlation is that the way we prepare is through life change. The turning away from our old ways, the world’s ways, and continually starting down a different path, led by the spirit of God is just as needed for us today as it was for the children of Israel in Jesus day. A changing from the inside out is the only way to true life change. Our behavior and obedience must be the fruit of a changed heart. Our desires must stem from the desire to follow God. Furthermore, John was always sure to point out that he was not the one who was changing their lives, but that the true light was coming from Jesus. Too often we can easily become the star of our own show rather than the instrument used by God to create a space for Jesus. Instead, we are to point people toward the hope that is in Christ Jesus, just as John did in his day.
Shawn and Kacie Skaggs