Bible Society of South Africa

Way Maker – 6 September 2021

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

The Preaching of John the Baptist

1It was the fifteenth year of the rule of the Emperor Tiberius; Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip was ruler of the territory of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias was ruler of Abilene, 2and Annas and Caiaphas were high priests. At that time the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.

Luke 3:1-1:2GNBOpen in Bible reader

The one who will prepare the way for the coming of the Christ. In Malachi, there is a reference to the coming of “Elijah” who was seen as the one to prepare the way for Jesus. In Luke 1:17, we find that John the Baptist is identified as this Elijah. At the beginning of his ministry, in Matthew 3:3, we read that John was seen as the one who is described in Isaiah 40:3, “A voice cries out. ‘Prepare in the wilderness a road for the LORD.’”

John’s whole life, and eventually his death at the hand of Herod, was completely dedicated to God. His father, Zechariah, had sung a song of praise to God even before his birth, “’You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the road for him.’” (Luke 1:76). John fulfilled this calling by preaching, baptising people and calling on them to turn away from their sins.

This dedication to God and righteousness eventually landed John in prison. The reigning king was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. John criticised the king about his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s former wife, therefore, Herod had him imprisoned. While in prison, he started having doubts about Jesus. Was he really the Messiah? In the end, he sent messengers to ask Jesus about it. One finds it strange that John who was related to Jesus through his mother Elizabeth, who baptised Jesus and saw the Spirit of God descending on Jesus like a dove, would have these doubts.

Jesus calmed his fears by telling John to just observe what He was doing: “… the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11:5) Yes, even the one who was to prepare the road for Jesus can, in difficult circumstances, have doubts. So can we, but Jesus always reassures us. We, like John, have only to look at what Jesus has done and can do in our lives.

Prayer: Thank you for removing all my doubts. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
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