Preparing the Way

Key Verse: “This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”
—Matthew 11:10

Selected Scripture:
Matthew 3:1-11;

IN THE KEY SCRIPTURAL reference for this lesson Jesus quotes from an Old Testament passage concerning John the Baptist, which says: “I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”—Mal. 3:1

John was the messenger of God chosen to prepare the way for the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Jesus, as prophesied, would not only be the Savior of the world, but he also would be the ‘messenger of the covenant.’ The covenant was the one given to Abraham, that provides for a seed of blessing which will bless all the families of the earth. (Gen. 22:15-18) This promise will be fulfilled during the future Millennial kingdom of Christ. The seed of blessing is our Lord Jesus, and includes his faithful followers. Paul explains, “If ye be Christ’s , then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—Gal. 3:29

Our Lord Jesus, when speaking to the multitude, proclaimed John to be “more than a prophet.” (Matt. 11:9) Further, concerning his forerunner, he said, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”—Matt. 11:11

John had been especially prepared as the servant of God, his mission and calling being Divinely directed. He was also six months older than Jesus, reaching the age of maturity, and beginning his work of introducing our Lord to the people of Israel, a half-year before Jesus began his ministry. The Israelites had been in anticipation for the coming Messiah, and John’s message drew a great amount of attention. “Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, John answered and said to them all, As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”—Luke 3:15,16, New American Standard Version

John was a powerful figure in his announcement of God’s kingdom, and in his preaching of repentance to the children of Israel. “This is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias [Isaiah], saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matt. 3:3) Matthew quoted the words of Isaiah, as recorded in Isaiah 40:3.

God had chosen a strong character to be the forerunner of our Lord and Master. His wilderness experiences had toughened him to live separately from the various sects and parties among the children of Israel. Even during our Lord’s ministry many received Jesus, who had first accepted the teachings of John the Baptist, and of repentance, and were baptized by John. These, however, were not baptized by the Holy Spirit. That was the greater ministry of the Master. John, however, faithfully carried out God’s purpose in him to be the forerunner of the Lord of Glory, the greatest life that has ever been lived.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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