The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Do you recognize the voice of the Lord speaking to you when you listen to the word of God in Scripture? Luke the evangelist tells us that the “word of God came to John in the wilderness” (Luke 3:2). Who was John the Baptist and what is the significance of the word which he received and delivered to the people of his day? Luke tells us that John was the son of Zechariah, a priest who served in the temple at Jerusalem. John stood at a pivotal juncture in the history of God’s dealing with his people. He bridged the Old and New Testaments, also known as the Old and New Covenants which God made with his people.
John was filled and led by the Spirit
John’s prophetic calling and mission preceded his conception and birth. The angel had announced to Zechariah that his barren wife will conceive a son, and “you shall call his name John,” and “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:13,15). When John received his name shortly after birth, his father prophesied that he would be “called the prophet of the Most High who will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76). John was called to be a prophet, a spokesman for God.
In dramatic fashion Luke tells us when John appeared on the world scene. Luke lists a few of the key reigning rulers in John’s era, including Tiberius Caesar of Rome (Luke 3:1). These rulers pale in reference to the man who now stood at the door of a new era of grace and salvation for the world. John’s mission was to prepare the way for God’s Anointed King who would come to establish God’s rule above all other kings and authorities. Luke emphasizes the universal call of the Gospel to all peoples without distinction. He quotes from the prophet Isaiah that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Isaiah 40:5; 52:10).
John was a servant of God’s Word
How did John prepare for the coming of the Anointed (Messiah) King and Savior of the world? Luke tells us that “the word of God came to John” when he was dwelling in the wilderness of Judea (Luke 3:2). John was called from an early age to devote himself to prayer and to the word of God. John not only took the Scriptures to heart, he molded his life according to them, and made himself a servant of the Word of God. John was led by the Spirit into a barren and lonely place away from the noise and distractions of everyday life. There God taught John in the solitude of the desert and prepared him for a prophetic ministry that would turn the hearts of his people to receive their long-awaited Messiah.
In the ancient world when a king decided to tour his kingdom, he first sent his courier ahead to prepare the way. John is the courier and great herald of the Messiah King who proclaims to all the peoples that the impending reign of God is now very close at hand. Isaiah had long ago prophesied the role of the Forerunner of the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5). John undoubtedly took this word to heart as he searched the Scriptures and reflected on the word of God in the wilderness. When John began his public ministry he traveled throughout the region of Judea and preached a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3).
Do you allow God’s Word to transform your life?
How can we, like John the Baptist, prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus Christ – today and everyday and when he comes again to bring us fully into his everlasting kingdom? John the Baptist tells us that the first step is conversion and repentance (Matthew 3:2; Luke 3:7). Conversion involves receiving God’s word into our heart and mind and allowing his Word to change our attitudes and wrong ways of thinking and judging. Repentance is the deliberate turning away from sin (wrong-doing) and turning to God to receive his pardon, healing, and strength to do what is good and reject what is wrong.
John saw from a distance what Jesus the Messiah would accomplish through his death and resurrection – pardon for our sins, healing and restoration, and eternal life for all who would believe in the Lord Jesus. Are you hungry for the Word of God and do you allow God’s word to transform the way you think, speak, and live your life?
“Lord Jesus, you are the Word of God and the Savior of the world. Help me to receive your Word with expectant faith, and to live it with confident hope, and to proclaim it joyfully with love and boldness to all I meet.”
“Make ready the way of the Lord, clear Him a straight path.” —Luke 3:4
Before Christ’s Christmas coming and His Second Coming, we need to make a highway in the desert. We need this highway so we can return to the Lord from the exile of sin and so the Lord can return to take us from our exile on earth (see 1 Pt 2:11) to our heavenly home. This desert highway is both for us (Bar 5:7) and the Lord to use (Lk 3:4). We are to use the highway first to get out of the exile of sin. Then Jesus will come on it to take us home from our exile on earth.
We construct and travel this highway by repentance — deep repentance, “a baptism of repentance” (Lk 3:3). By repentance, we fill in the emptiness of sin’s “death valley” and level mountains of pride and inflated egos (Lk 3:5). As we confess our sins, the Lord makes straight (Lk 3:5) our winding excuses, rationalizations, unrealistic denials, and self-deceptions. The rough, jagged, cutting, harmful edges of our selfish attitudes are made smooth through repentance, forgiveness, Confession, and reconciliation (Lk 3:5).
Make and drive the highway of repentance into Christmas and heaven.
Prayer: Father, keep me on the holy highway (Is 35:8). Promise: “My prayer is that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter, up to the very day of Christ.” —Phil 1:9-10 Praise: Praise You, Jesus, “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6). All glory and honor to You!
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements