2011-12-08 - The Message Sent Ahead
Mark 1:4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (NASB)
Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist who was the forerunner, or the messenger sent ahead of Jesus. The message that he was given to tell those who would come was curious. Now the idea of sin and repentance was nothing new to Israel. There were sin offerings that are made on specific occasions. Mary is reported as making a sin offering after Jesus' birth. This was expected. The act was for her cleansing. A sacrifice was made which was a lamb or two turtle doves if the family could not afford a lamb.
John's message would not have been completely alien if it only involved sin, but it also spoke of the soon coming Christ. The idea of the Messiah was not new, but there was urgency. When asked if he were the Messiah John made it clear that he was not the one. That he was the messenger who was to prepare the way for the coming Lord. Many believed the message and were baptized by John as a witness to their repentance in the Jordan River. The hearts of men were being prepared for their coming Savior.
The message we now carry is alien to this world, and becoming more so as the days progress. We have reached the time when many will not hear the message. They scoff like those who thought John had spent too much time out in the desert sun. Others have become hostile to the message that we now carry. Still some hear what is offered and accept it holding on with both hands and a repentant heart.
From John the Baptist down to us today the message has not changed. Christmas is a reminder of the first earthly step toward the cross to destroy the power of sin and death.
Lord give lead us in lives that tell others about the hope You give us in our words and actions. Holy Spirit prepare the hearts of men to receive it. Amen.
Grace and Peace,