Reading: Mark 1: 1-6
Verse Two: “I will send my messenger ahead of you… to prepare the way”.
Mark quotes Isaiah to open up his “gospel about Jesus Christ, Son of God”. This quote from Isaiah 40 is the the Israelites what John 3:16 is to Christians. It is a very well-known verse to Mark’s audience. Through hundreds of years of various oppression, exiles, and other trials, the Israelites have clung to the promise of a Messiah. To the Israelites, the prophets have always been bearers of God’s word. So when John the Baptist appears in the wilderness, proclaiming that the Messiah is near, people flock out to see and hear him. John is a one-man faith revival, much like Elijah and the other great prophets who came before him. Why do people – “the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem” – come out to see John? Because he speaks words of hope and restoration.
In times of suffering and oppression, when one rises up to speak words of hope and restoration, they tend to draw a crowd, people tend to listen. In more recent times this has happened with Gandhi in India, with Mandela in South Africa, and with Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States. These men spoke words of hope and restoration. They gave the oppressed a voice that brought hope. In our nation, Martin Luther King, Jr., brought a voice of hope coupled with compassion, peace, and, above all else, faith. He sought to bring hope and to bring equality to a people who faced injustices and segregation. His words of hope, strengthened by faith in God, brought great change to our nation.
Mark writes of one who will bring even greater change than this. Mark writes of Jesus Christ, the One who will bring hope and love and compassion and peace to all peoples of all nations. But w are getting a but ahead of ourselves. Today we have John, the voice who called folks to repentance, preparing them for the One who is to come. Today, many are out there in the “wilderness”, longing for hope and restoration. Can we raise up our voices as followers of Jesus Christ, calling people to make straight their paths, to prepare their hearts for the One who is coming? May we be loud and clear as we invite others to come and know this Jesus, the Savior and Messiah, the hope and restorer of the world.