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Mark 1:1-8  -  Prepare the Way

 

His name was John. People knew him locally as the Baptist. Some would say of him that he was a religious eccentric. Others less kind would dismiss him as being simply a flake. He definitely did not seem to be the kind of ďHow to win friends and influence peopleĒ type of personality to usher in the news of the Messiahís coming. He just somehow doesnít seem to fit in with shepherds and wise men and the other characters that we traditionally associate with the Christmas story. Yet, this was Godís unlikely servant chosen to herald the spectacular events that would soon follow. A most unlikely promotions man to be sure, but Godís man nevertheless.

From the very beginning everything about John was unique. His mother Elizabeth was related to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Elizabeth conceived six months before Mary. But Mary happened to be a very young girl, indeed almost a child. Most scholars put her probable age at thirteen. It was not unusual for a girl in that day and time to be of childbearing age at such a tender age. Indeed, it is not unheard of even in cotemporary America .

Elizabeth , on the other hand, was a woman who was in the golden years of her life. She had never given birth to a child. You would think of her more in the category of great grandmother than mother. Yet, she and her aging priest of a husband were the unlikely candidates. Itís not out of the question today with recent advances in medicine, but beg the grandmotherís here today, donít take this as a word from the Lord!

And then there was John himself. Being the same age as Jesus they grow up together, played together, yet as they reached adulthood they were different in so many ways. When John began his ministry he lived in the desert solitude of Judea , a rugged desert wilderness. He fed on honey and wild locust and dressed in garments of camel hair. He constantly brooded over the scriptures, especially the prophetic ministry of Elijah, after whom he modeled his own ministry.

Nor was John a respecter of persons or rank. He had an intimidating personality. For that reason the upper class folk rejected both he and his message. You can read about that in Luke 7:29.

Yet, John gathered a respectable following. He attracted many hearers among the lower class, many of whom received baptism by his hands. John even drew a group of disciples around him, which is significant for two reasons. First, some of these disciples later became disciples of our Lord. Secondly, a number of people began to think of John himself as being the long expected Messiah. For that reason Johnís gospel felt obliged to specifically point out ďThere was a man sent from God whose name was John, He came for testimony to bear witness to the light that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but he came to bear witness to the light.

What drew people to John and his message? Well, John was far-fetched. His austere life style was a compelling reason to listen to him and perhaps his strange ways convinced some people to follow him. I think many thought he was Elijah the prophet who returned. But there was more to John than simply a bizarre strange life. John understood that God was about to do something that would shake the foundations of the earth and he needed to prepare the way for that event. He did this in basically three ways...

 

1.  John lived a godly life.

2.  John challenged the peopleís sins.

3.  John pointed the way to Christ.

 

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