By Pastor John
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 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. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 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. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (ESV)
The other day I was at Hallandale’s MLK parade. I saw an elected official that I had met once before. She was walking towards me with two aides, one on each side. I had met her aides several times, and was more familiar with them than her. But with poor form, I reached my hand out to shake the hand of the aides first instead of the official. As my hand reached out, the aide realized I was reaching out to shake his hand rather than his boss’s. He pointed me towards his boss, and I made a turn to shake the official’s hand.
It made me realize that those aides are there to point people to the official. They might go up to someone, get their attention and help turn them towards the official who is walking up so that the person is ready to meet the important dignitary.
When John the Baptist appears on the scene, he is much like those aides. He gains attention, but only so that he can point people to someone more important. If people reach out for John the Baptist without seeing who he is pointing to, they’re missing the point. John’s role was to turn people in the right direction so that they were ready to meet Jesus when He came. That turn in the right direction is called repentance, which was the center of John’s ministry.
Repentance is a turn from self towards Jesus. It is radical and disruptive in nature. Repentance means turning from thinking the world revolves around you to orbiting your life around Jesus. He becomes the expert in all areas of your life. While Jesus welcomes you into His presence, He isn’t a genie, but a Lord and Master…God Himself.
And that is why we can’t dilly-dally when Jesus calls us to follow Him. He is so important that we must drop what we are doing and turn towards Him. It isn’t quite enough to just ask for forgiveness from your sins, then turn right back towards them. Following Jesus requires that we turn from them and to Him.