23 December 2021
Just as John the Baptist had a mission to prepare the way of Jesus in the first coming, we want to remember that we Christians and the church who live in the end have a mission to prepare the way of Jesus in the Second Coming.
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” 15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them. 19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison. (Luke 3: 1-20)
The gospel of Christ is an event that has taken root in the history of the world (verse 1, 2). I write in three points.
1. We wait for the Word of God to come down
The word of God came down to John (verse 2). ⇒Then , John went and preached (verse 3).
To do the work of the Lord, we need to receive the Word of God. That is the calling of the Lord as a worker. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah received the Word of God and said: his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in. (Jeremiah 20: 9)
In other words, this means listening to the voice of God and knowing the will of God. This experience is usually done in prayer. Prayer without hearing the voice of God is a one-way , not a conversation with God. Therefore, we need to be trained to hear the voice of God.
As we pray and open the Bible, the Word of God, and begin reading, we will hear the voice of God and understand the will of God. This does not mean that we actually hear the voice of God (although, of course, in rare cases we may actually hear the voice of God). This training is essential for growing and maturing as a Christian. Pray before reading the Bible. “Lord, here is the Bible, the Word of God. May the Word of God come down. Speak to me.”
Where did the Word of God go down when John was? It’s a wilderness. When he was in the wilderness, the Word of God came down to John (verse 2). The wilderness is a quiet and harsh place. In many cases, God speaks to us when we are quietly turning our thoughts toward God and when we feel that life is tough.
What happened to John when the Word of God came down? He went out of the wilderness and preached repentance (verse 3). “At this rate you will perish. God will judge your sins. So repent for your sins to be forgiven. Turn back to God. Turn 180 degrees. And be baptized (water baptism). “
Jesus said that the doomsday era was like Noah’s era. The flood of Noah suddenly came in an unexpected way as God’s judgment on the sins of mankind, and people drowned and died. As we receive the Word of God, we must warn people like Noah (II Peter 2: 5). “God’s judgment will come. It will be destroyed as it is. But there is a way to save the way of salvation. It is to enter the ark. It is safe to enter the ark. That ark is Jesus Christ. If you are in Jesus Christ, you will be relieved. You will be saved. “
Those who receive the word (message) from God are aware of God’s choice and live. This is very important for living life. Mother Teresa has such a story. She abandoned her wonderful position as the principal of a girls’ school and decided to serve her life in Calcutta, India, which was said to be one of the poorest towns in the world, and went out alone.
Mother Teresa (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997)
First of all, she wanted to rent a house that would be the basis of her ministry, so she went around all day to a person who would lend her a suitable house, but she couldn’t find it. She couldn’t find it even after walking for a week. She wrote in her diary: “I walked every day for the past week. I couldn’t find anything. My leg hurts. The devil whispers to me.” Leave here and return to your hometown. There is a comfortable life there. Isn’t it? ”But I had a calling from God.”
Mother Teresa quit her job as the principal of a girls’ school and went to Calcutta not because of her selfishness, but “Jesus Christ sent me here. I am sure. I had a strong awareness and conviction about the choice from God that I had a calling.” In fact, she never gave up. Eventually she was able to find a suitable home, and her ministry after that is as many know. Many people were saved through her ministry. The sick were treated, the trauma of the abandoned was healed, and the ministry expanded.
What is the starting point? Like John the Baptist, Mother Teresa had the Word of God. She had a strong sense of vocation, “God called me for this.” This was the foundation that supported her ministry. We may not be called to go abroad and spend a lifetime with the poor, like Mother Teresa. However, we now need to be aware that this place is where God puts ourselves, where God sends us.
2. Fruits suitable for repentance
From here, he will preach the message of repentance to those who came to be baptized. I think it’s amazing to call the people who gathered together “You brood of vipers! “. Maybe it’s because some people came from curiosity or just wanted form.
But in fact, looking at the history of revival, for example, a preacher named Charles Finney, who was widely used by God in 19th century America, called out at a evangelism meeting, “Oh, sinners!” At the rally he hosted, people really repented and were saved one after another. And the reason why his ministry was outstanding is that the fruit remained. The ministry of other well-known evangelists (even DL Moody and Billy Graham) can save at most a quarter of what is saved at a rally, as seen in the sowing of Jesus. It is said that they did not remain in the church. However, in Finney’s ministry, 85% are said to have kept salvation and stayed in the church.
Charles Grandison Finney (August 29, 1792-August 16, 1875)
The reason was that the Holy Spirit worked powerfully at the rally, giving people a strong sense of sin. They recognized that they were heading to hell and the wrath of God. They were afraid and shouted. They believed in Jesus as their Savior and received forgiveness of their sins. With that background, they knew how terrifying it was to leave salvation and lose salvation. They also realized the wonderfulness of salvation. Therefore, they never abandoned their faith.
It is the same as the reaction of the congregation after Peter’s sermon in Pentecost. They became aware of their sins. 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2: 36-38)
The crowds, tax collectors, and soldiers who heard John the Baptist’s sermon also said. ” Then, what should we do? ” = What kind of repentance should we bear?
We also hope that the fruits of repentance will bear various good fruits. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodwill, honesty, meekness, and self-control. (Galatheians 5: 22,23)
3) Raise Jesus high and lower yourself
Knowing that people saw John the Baptist’s sermons, personalities, actions, etc. and began to think that he might be the Savior, But he says “it was worthwhile to untie the shoes (slave work) of Jesus’ Savior. (verse 16).
Introducing the letter of a Chinese evangelist. This person is already old and can hardly go out for evangelism. But when he was young, he was used for the wonderful work of God, and tens of thousands of people had faith in his ministry. It is written in his letter like this. “I read chapter 21 of the Gospel of John this morning. I was just reading the word, but on the way my wife was impressed and suddenly burst into tears. I gave no interpretation, just. I learned that just by reading the Word, one’s heart would be broken so much. For a long time, it was my pleasure to lead people to Jesus, and before I knew it, I was in terms of preaching. I thought I was a skilled person. I unknowingly forgot that this was a gift of God. I led a few people to Christ for the first time. At that time, I still knew that I would glorify God, but when I saw too many people being led to Christ, I wondered if God’s thing was my own. I had the illusion that I was no longer glorifying God. On the contrary, I was proud of myself somewhere and thought that I was the first person on this road. Human nature is exactly this. Humans have a kind of illness, which is to assume that what God has given is theirs. “
And there is a poem he wrote.
I used to like to show myself. Now I want to be hidden in Christ.
In the past, I wanted to be praised by others. Now I pray that I want to please Christ.
In the past, I wanted the result of service. Now I am pleased that the will of the Lord will be accomplished.
In the past, I spoke the word by wisdom. Now rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the past, I was pleased with the busyness of my service. Now I’m learning to endure and wait.
In the past, I sought to unravel the exquisite words that were praised by others. Now I am just happy to be illuminated by the light of the Holy Spirit.
It used to speak by experience, and now it is about to speak by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
God keeps an eye on those who are humble. Let us lower ourselves like John the Baptist, raise Jesus Christ high, and glorify God. John the Baptist said. ” He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less. ” (John 3: 30)