The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1:1-8
Our sons loved having grandparents visit us. They would revel in good grandfatherly and grandmotherly attention and love. One time, however, when Diane’s folks showed up, it wasn’t quite the greeting they expected. Tim answered the door. He hadn’t been told they were coming. We thought it would be a good surprise for them. It was, but his reaction was perhaps not the best. He opened the door, saw them and asked, “What are you doing here?”
“We thought we’d come for a visit if that’s OK with you,” his grandma replied. Tim quickly regained his composure: “Sure! Yes!” And the visit went from awkward to great in a moment. It was a good visit.
John is announcing the coming of Jesus. This will be no surprise visit. People would not just suddenly learn that Jesus Christ, the Son of God was there – at least not those who paid any attention to this voice in the wilderness, John the Baptizer. Not only is Jesus being announced – his way prepared – his presence is good news.
Not everyone would agree that having Jesus up close and personally present would be good news. Some might be afraid that they would say or do something to offend him, or disqualify themselves from his love and grace. Some may be so self-conscious because they feel as though they need to clean up their act before Jesus could be in their lives. Some people may not want to cede control to Jesus – Messiah and Son of God or not.
But some would welcome him gladly. The poor in spirit. The sinners in need of God’s grace. The downtrodden. The Diseased. The fearful. The oppressed.
The sooner we are able to level the paths for Jesus’ presence in our lives the better. We do that by giving up control. We do that by giving up appearances. We do that by confessing our sins. We do that by letting Jesus see the real us – whoever we may be.
Don’t be surprised if Jesus shows up at your door. He’s promised to be with us forever. Don’t ask, “What are you doing here?” Know, he comes to usher in the reign and rule of God – a rule and reign of life, health, hope, salvation, grace, and love. That’s what he’s doing in your heart and life.