Bible Society of South Africa
Frank Retief

Remember his strength – Day 1

The messenger

Bible text(s)

The Preaching of John the Baptist

1This is the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2It began as the prophet Isaiah had written:

“God said, ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you

to clear the way for you.’

3Someone is shouting in the desert,

‘Get the road ready for the Lord;

make a straight path for him to travel!’ ”

4So John appeared in the desert, baptizing and preaching. “Turn away from your sins and be baptized,” he told the people, “and God will forgive your sins.”

Mark 1:1-4GNBOpen in Bible reader

1The LORD Almighty answers, “I will send my messenger to prepare the way for me. Then the Lord you are looking for will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger you long to see will come and proclaim my covenant.”

Malachi 3:1GNBOpen in Bible reader

2Encourage the people of Jerusalem.

Tell them they have suffered long enough

and their sins are now forgiven.

I have punished them in full for all their sins.”

3A voice cries out,

“Prepare in the wilderness a road for the LORD!

Clear the way in the desert for our God!

Isaiah 40:2-3GNBOpen in Bible reader

These words apply to John the Baptist. He was sent as a messenger to prepare the way for the Lord. This is a very significant development and we should not miss the importance of this passage of scripture for us today.

In those early days of the Roman Empire, it was a common thing for a messenger to be sent ahead of a victorious Roman general, to proclaim his victory on some far off battlefield. It served as a spur to confidence and encouragement in the local people regarding the ability of their armies to protect them. However, in this passage, we have the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy (Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:2-3) regarding the long awaited Messiah. God would raise up a messenger who would prepare the people for the Messiah’s appearance, by appealing to them to repent and to be ready to receive him when he appeared.

John the Baptist’s proclamation helps us, today, in two ways. Firstly, we can be sure that the one to whom he pointed was truly the Son of God. He was not a fake, nor an illusion. He was the true Messiah who came to bring redemption to his people. However, secondly, John’s proclamation was one of the signs that marked out Jesus as unique; so unique was he that a messenger was sent ahead of him. Unlike the messengers who were sent out to proclaim military victories for Roman generals, this messenger prepares the way of the Lord himself. Furthermore, this “Lord” who comes, does so not as a mighty warrior, but as a servant who will rescue his people by dying for them.

The uniqueness of Jesus is spread throughout the opening chapters of Mark’s gospel, but it is probably better to describe his uniqueness in terms of his great authority. Have a look at Mark chapter 1 and see how many signs of his uniqueness there were: at his baptism, with the voice from heaven; his temptations in the desert; his power over the men he calls to be his disciples; his authority over evil spirits and his power to heal the sick. These all point to a truly unique individual with unusual authority over all the brokenness of the human condition.

We should take great courage from this. No matter how much it may seem, from time to time, that Christ’s kingdom is about to disappear, we must remember his power and greatness. It is this authority that he has exercised over you when he called you to himself, and it is this authority and power that accompanies us on our way.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.16
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