Our scripture this week is Mark 1:1-8, taken today from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I am sending My messenger before You, Who will prepare Your way; The voice of one calling out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord , Make His paths straight!’” John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to bend down and untie the straps of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John was not your average theological scholar. He was dedicated to God before his birth and grew up in a believing home, but his ministry took him into the wilderness where he lived, ate and dressed much differently than other religious leaders. Many people of that time compared him to the prophet Elijah of old.
John had a sharp message for the people: “Prepare the way of the Lord”, calling them to repentance and a new life. He taught that turning away from sin and turning to God was the only way to be saved. He promised that “After me One is coming who is mightier than I” (v. 7), making them ready for the ministry of Jesus.
We are called to be ready for Christ’s coming in our own lives and then go help others be prepared as well. God loves us so much that He was willing to come to be with us as one of us, showing us the way to salvation. May we be ready to accept the gift He brings.
Gracious God, we don’t deserve the blessings You have given, but You call us to be part of Your kingdom work just the same. Help us to be the servants You intend, ready to share the Good News with the world. Amen.