Key Verse: “He went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
—Luke 3:3, New King James Version
IN THE DIVINE PURPOSE, John the Baptist was destined to fulfill the role of a prophet. There was little probability that he would devote himself to another calling such as a farmer, fisherman, or tradesman. He was to be the Messenger who would prepare the way for the ministry of Christ.
Thus, as stated in our Key Verse, John went throughout the region around the Jordan River, preaching a baptism of repentance for sins. As he did this, he fulfilled the words of Isaiah the prophet: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”—Luke 3:4-6, NKJV; Isa. 40:3-5
The word of God came directly to John, indicative of his favored position in the divine estimation. With boldness he began to preach a baptism of repentance. His message was to all ranks of Jewish society, from the poor and afflicted to the rich and privileged. He urged all to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.
John was faithful to his mission. Although his notoriety spread throughout Judea, he remained humble. He did not begin to think of himself as someone highly exalted who deserved his “fair share” of wealth, honor, and comforts. He would cry out in the wilderness on behalf of someone who was coming after him—one who indeed was worthy of honor. This one of whom John esteemed himself unworthy to even unlatch the strap of his sandals was the Lord Jesus Christ. We, as Christians, take a lesson from John. We must always remain humble. No matter how much the Lord blesses us we are still broken, though forgiven, and God is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34; Col. 3:25) May we always put Christ ahead of ourselves.
Despite his humility, the people were reasoning in their hearts whether John was the Christ or not. They were in expectation, and this seemed to be the time when Christ would come. The Scriptures bear record of John’s faithful humility: “The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Are you Elijah? He said, I am not. Are you the Prophet? And he answered, No. Then they said to him, Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah said.”—John 1:19-23, NKJV
Armed with humility, John was a credible witness to the coming of Christ Jesus—the Messiah. He feared no man and plainly spoke of the need for repentance and the remission of sins. As the one who prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry, he was eminently faithful. We also desire to prepare the way of Christ to enter the hearts of men now, as God, virtue, integrity and opportunity may allow.