Matthew 3:1-12 (NIV)
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 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.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John the Baptist, the cousin of Christ, was an unusual dude. His clothes were made of camel hair. His diet; locusts and wild honey... not exactly Keto-friendly. His prolific pastime became a permanent part of his name. As was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah, his role was to prepare the way for the Messiah. So how does one prepare a sinful people to meet their holy God? How do you "make straight paths" among a crooked generation? John used a most natural tool, his voice. And what did he "call in the wilderness? His sermon could be summarized down to one word: REPENT.
Literally translated, it means to make a decision to turn around, to face a new direction. And when you've been living life without the Messiah in it, as John's audience had done... it's time for a new direction.
Where are you this holiday season? Has 2019 been a year spent without the Messiah? Have you found yourself relying more on you and less on Him? Have your decisions been self-centered instead of God-centered? Perhaps the 2,000 year old voice of the forerunner can still reach your heart today? Repent... for the kingdom of God is near... celebrated this month in the birth of a Messiah... who is still making our paths straight, one soul at a time.