Friday, August 24, 2007

Luke #32 - The Message Before the Word

Luke #32 – The Message Before the Word

“The word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God’” (Luke 3:2b-6 – King James Version).

I was involved with a group that brought a famous athlete to speak to a group of teenagers. He was a wonderful speaker and a great guy. Before he came his assistant called and told us exactly what kind of flight arrangements to make, what kind of hotel to call, and what kind room was required. We were also told what kind of food he liked and what kind of soft drinks to have on hand. That struck me as odd. I thought of John the Baptist.

John was bringing a speaker in and that speaker didn’t have a lot of requirements. There was one; REPENT! John’s message was simple and it is all that is needed to prepare a person to receive Jesus. John’s message was indeed strict, but much needed. John was like the fire, wind, and the earthquake that preceded the still small voice of God in Christ Jesus. John’s message was dauntless. He had no fear of what would happen to him nor any fear of what others thought of him…that ‘ol boy just preached! John’s message saw past class distinctions. Take the time to glean from the Gospels the preaching of John and you will find that he had keen insight into human nature; the needs and temptations. John’s message was very practical. It was not a warm and fuzzy type of message, but it was something that one could put in their pocket and take down the road. John’s message was preparatory; it was a threefold message of preparation. “Repent”; turn from your way. “The kingdom of God is at hand”; the time for God’s personal rule over people is coming. “Behold the Lamb of God”; CHRIST IS HERE! John’s message did not have any miracles…it was simple, “Get right and get ready!” John’s message was temporary. It was meant to be that way. He was clearing the way for Jesus. John was not the main attraction; Jesus was and is.

There are several things to learn here. Chief among them in my mind is the fact that we cannot elevate the messenger above the message as was stated in yesterday’s devotion. Also through Isaiah’s prophecy and John’s preaching we see some of the things Jesus would come to do.

He would fill every valley. I see in that the filling of Jesus. I see Jesus as the The One who can take our feelings of lack of purpose and fill us with His purposes. I see Jesus as The One who can tack our feelings of lack of worth and give us worth. I see every need a person may have being filled in Christ Jesus with the innumerable riches that He has stored in heaven. Yes, to all who lack, Jesus comes to fill!

Jesus would come and level every mountain. By His blood Jesus would confront every prideful and self righteous thought or deed of mankind. He would bring low any who thought they could save themselves or who could know God by following some rote or doing a list of deeds. Yes, to all who think they are good enough in their own deeds, Jesus comes to humble!

Jesus would come to straighten the crooked. There were (and ARE) a great many who would bend the word and the faith to suit themselves. Jesus came to straighten them out. He came to take the bends out of their thinking and put them on the direct way of truth. He came to straighten crooked theology, bent deeds, and bowed religion. Yes, all need the straight and narrow and Jesus came to put us on that path!

Jesus came to smooth out the rough spots. Where many had been taught and had lived a rough faith out of ignorance, a lot of folk had been misinformed about how to know God and how to worship Him. Jesus came to straighten that out. Yes, even today, Jesus is meeting with the misinformed and leading them to truly know God in Him!

Finally, Jesus came not only to straighten out the Jews but to make a way for “all flesh” to experience the salvation of God. At the core of John’s message was that we should get ready for that. That same message is still good today. We had better seek a filling from Him while there is time. We had better humble ourselves before it is too late and He humbles us. We had better check the bent parts of our lives and get them straight before He does. We had better settle for no less than straight instruction from the Master; that means we should supplement listening to preachers and knuckleheads like me with personal Bible study mixed with a lot of prayer.

Here’s the point…John was telling the world to get the junk cleared out of the way for the Savior was drawing nigh. Good advice then and still good today. The less junk, the more room. The more room, the bigger the throne. The bigger the throne, the more exalted the King. Give room in your life for THE KING! Repent…get rid of the junk…make more room for Jesus!

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