By Brooke Holt
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.’” Matthew 3:1-3
If you want to attract a large crowd, it is unlikely that you will walk around crying out that people need to repent. In fact, I have seen just the opposite happen. One Saturday, my daughter and I had to run into the mall. A group of people blocked the walkway from the parking lot to the mall entrance. In their hands were signs declaring that people must repent of their sins. As people held up their signs, others were yelling the same message at us. It was not one that drew us to them but instilled a great need to get far from them. As you might imagine, we exited the mall a different way than we entered to ensure our distance from this passionate group.
Matthew describes here in his Gospel the prophet, John the Baptist, proclaiming the same message as our mall crowd did – repent! Instead of people fleeing from him, the crowds flocked to him. Why would that be? John, an odd looking fellow, preached a hard message; however, God’s word spoke of a day when God would send a messenger before his Son. That messenger would declare the day of the Lord and serve to prepare God’s people for the promised Messiah.
John the Baptist fulfilled those Old Testament prophecies as he called God’s people to remove the obstacles from their lives that would hinder them from receiving the Messiah and his kingdom. For the Pharisees, it was pride, legalism, and control. For many others it was a disregard for the commandments given by God or idolatry. For some it was love of this world. Yes, it was just like our world today as people had turned away from the worship of the Lord God and settled for the counterfeits of this world.
As they did in the days about which Matthew writes, John the Baptist’s words come to you today to challenge you to search your life. Is there anything that hinders you from receiving the Lord or living fully in his kingdom? If so, today is the day to repent, to turn back to the Lord, and to live faithfully in his kingdom now as you look forward to living in the kingdom yet to come.
What do you need to remove from your life that you may fully receive Jesus and the Kingdom of God? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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