Formations lesson for Dec. 9: Preparing for Christ
November 21 2001 by Tom Greene , Matthew 3:1-12

Formations lesson for Dec. 9: Preparing for Christ | Wednesday, Nov 21, 2001

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2001

Formations lesson for Dec. 9: Preparing for Christ

By Tom Greene Matthew 3:1-12 The early church felt that John the Baptist had played a crucial role in the early days of Jesus' ministry. All four of the Gospels mention John and imply that Jesus could not have accomplished what He did if John had not done what he did so well. John's role in this drama was "to prepare the way of the Lord, to make a highway for our God in the desert." Palestine was crisscrossed with paths that were little more than beaten tracks - travel was difficult and uncertain. Whenever the king proposed to make a journey, word would go out "to prepare the king's highway." They would remove large stones and repair places that might have become impassable.

The Old Testament picked up on the practice and predicted that before the Messiah would arrive, someone would be sent ahead "to prepare the way of the Lord." John fulfilled this role and the early church never forgot it.

The gospel reports that people came to hear John and that he baptized many of them in the river Jordan (Matt. 3.5). He convinced people to honestly grapple with those things in their lives that needed to be changed and to resolve to do something creative about them.

John accomplished these things by appealing to people's fears and pointing to an awesome judgment that awaited all sinful behaviors. He spoke of the wrath of God about to be poured out on all unrighteousness.

It is important to realize that the opposite of love is not hostility, but indifference. Not caring is the true polar opposite of love. The words and actions that may seem on the surface to be negative and harsh are born of a deeper concern for well-being.

John's message was not entirely negative. In addition to a warning, he also spoke about hope. He pointed to the one who was coming and would baptize "with the Holy Spirit and with fire." This was John's way of saying that God had not given up on creation, but was sending one who could heal all of our brokenness and illuminate our darkness if we would let Him.

There is no way to overstate what this one can do in setting right what has gone wrong if we will only admit our need and grant Him access to our darkness. Anything I acknowledge, God is able and willing to take over. But what He is not given, He cannot take away! What is not opened to Him, He cannot repair.

John was able to convince his hearers of the positive sense of hope. He made them see that it is never too late for God. He can do anything if we grant Him access.

A story is told about a strange character that would appear from time to time in the mountains. He was a kind of "Johnny Appleseed." He did not live in any one place, but wandered from community to community with all of his belongings on his back. He was known far and wide for his ability to fix anything - clocks, plows, watches, scales - anything. Every year or so a wave of excitement would spread throughout the community as word got around that "the fixin' man" was in the area. Hearing this, everyone would gather items from their cellars and attics that needed repair. It was believed that "the fixin' man" could fix anything, on the one condition that you recognize the need to bring the broken things to his attention.

This, in a nutshell, is what John the Baptist was doing before the coming of Christ. He spread the word that "a fixin' man" was on the way, and that no problem was too great for Him if one would only acknowledge it - bring it out of the cellar or attic and let Him at it.

There was one coming "who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire," - one who would take away the sins of the world.

By creating an atmosphere of honesty and expectation, John "prepared the way of the Lord" so that when Jesus arrived, some would be ready for Him.

Are you ready?

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11/21/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tom Greene , Matthew 3:1-12 | with 0 comments
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