October 4, 2011
Preparing the Way
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I really enjoy meeting new people at the beach. Some of the people at the beach do not like to talk much, but others will sit down and talk with you about a variety of subjects. As you talk with people, you often get a keen sense of how they are doing, by watching their expressions, their body language, and many other things that they do. Spiritually, however, you can gauge how a person stands with Christ by listening to the things they bring forth from their heart. Sometimes I meet someone who wants to discuss spiritual things with me immediately. A few weeks ago I went to the park and a man came up to me to ask a question about the Bible. As soon as I arrived, he asked me: “Are you the preacher?” I said I am just a man, and suggested we talk. A few days later, a friend of mine was talking with a woman, and mentioned to her that she should talk with me. She asked when I come to the park, and my friend said: “There he is now” and I walked up. God has a wonderful way of having people meet each other every day. In Mark 1:1-3, we read about God beginning the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we will learn about how God brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to earth through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
The Beginning. You may recall that Genesis 1:1 reads: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God began with the creation of both heaven and earth. Likewise, John 1:1 reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” From the Gospel of John, we learn about the Word who became flesh, and dwelt among us–Jesus Christ (John 1:14). In the Gospel of Mark, we read about the Son of God. We see a wonderful picture of the deity of Christ, and see His divine love and power at work among the children of Israel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also in Mark 1:1, we read about the gospel (“εὐαγγελίου”) of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, we have four “Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and each one of them presents a different view of the Lord Jesus Christ. Scholars noticed that Matthew, Mark, and Luke cover many of the same parts of the life of the Lord Jesus, but each writer emphasizes different aspects of the Lord Jesus and His ministry. Scholars call Matthew, Mark and Luke the “Synoptic Gospels” because they share a similar viewpoint of Christ and memorialize many of the same events in the life of Jesus Christ on earth. The Gospel of John starts in eternity past, and presents a very different view of the Lord Jesus. The term “Gospel” means literally “good news” and in the New Testament the term has several different meanings. In Mark 1:1, the term Gospel certainly means good news, but it also carries with it the idea of the good news presented in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. For a succinct understanding the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, consider 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” God prepares the way for the life of Jesus Christ, and outlined in the Old Testament the specific ways He would prepare the people of Israel to meet the Son of God.
The Prophetic Calendar. Recently I heard a preacher talk about the “probability” that some man could fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ. He likened the probability to finding a single quarter in a field the size of Texas stacked chin-deep with quarters. Actually, the preacher was completely mistaken because no one, except the Son of God, could fulfill the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ. For example, Isaiah, the Old Testament Prophet, did not speak in terms of probability that someone would come and prepare the way for Christ. Isaiah prophesied of certainty that Christ would come, at the appointed time and place, and that the “messenger” would prepare the way of Christ by crying out in the wilderness. Whenever someone talks about probabilities and the Bible, they generally have no idea what they are talking about. Consider further that only the Son of God could fulfill the prophecy of a virgin giving birth to a child, who would be known as Immanuel, God with Us. God only came in the flesh through the person of Jesus Christ. In Mark 1: 2-3, we read about the prophecy of Isaiah, and the precision of the revelation from God about the messenger and his preparation for the coming Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ from Nazareth.
Sending the Messenger. Notice too that God had predicted that He would send the messenger before the Christ. This divinely sent messenger would have a specific task: prepare the way for Christ (Mark 1:2-3). Every believer, every day, can rest assured that God has a special task for you to perform. God does not want to waste your time, or leave you without something to do. Could you imagine John the Baptist saying, well, I think I will ignore God’s call to prepare the way for Christ? So often, God uses our lives to prepare the way for Christ to come to someone, and we see how God used us to prepare the way for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God loves for us to see how He works in history, and prophesies His actions centuries before, to bring the fine details to pass as part of His great plan of salvation and glory.
Crying in the Wilderness. God calls men to preach in very unusual places. In Mark 1:3, we see that God called John the Baptist, the messenger (John 1:23), to preach in the wilderness. Perhaps you do not like where God has sent you to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are just preparing the way for someone else to follow you with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I recall Paul telling the Corinthians that Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. He added that neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). God specifically sent the messenger to prepare the way of Christ by speaking in the wilderness. The people had to leave their towns and cities and go out into the wilderness to hear the messenger. The very setting of the place where the messenger spoke would certainly have garnered the attention of those coming to see him.
Making Ready for the Christ. In Mark 1:3, we see that the messenger had a specific task assigned by God and also a specific purpose. The messenger was to make the way of the LORD ready, and to make His paths straight. This messenger had a great honor bestowed upon Him by God. He was making ready the way of the Lord. When Jesus appeared, the paths and the way spiritually had been prepared by the messenger. You may also recall that the people held John the Baptist in high esteem (Matthew 21:23-27). John preached a specific message of the coming kingdom, and of repentance (Mark 1:4; Acts 19:4).
So we learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ today.
● God plans the future, including the details of the message, the messenger, and his location.
● In God’s plans, nothing happens by accident or probability.
● God loves for us to know all about Jesus, and how God planned for the life of Jesus Christ, even before Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem. Of course, we know that Jesus existed as God long before His birth on earth.
Application for Today
As I live today, I am thrilled to think about all the planning God does for every day of my life. He has a perfect plan for my life, and my life will fit perfectly into the master plan for everyone else seeking to do the will of God around me. God was well-pleased to use the life of the messenger to prepare the way for Jesus in a unique way, but God still uses people to share the message of Jesus. In a sense, God uses our lives and testimony to prepare people to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You may be a planter, a waterer, or a harvester, but in every case, God gets all the glory. He alone saves people from their sins. Will you be lifting your voice today to tell people about Jesus who loves them today?