Prepare the Way!
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” 3 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ” 4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark begins his gospel with a quote from Malachi 3:1
1 “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts.
And Isaiah 40:3
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.
In his preparation, John the Baptist gives us a few truths we need to remember when we are sharing the Good News of the Gospel with those who are lost.
We preach the Good News of the Gospel and should be careful to remember a few things when we do:
Preach repentance of sins. (4-5)
We preach Him who is worthy. (7)
We preach a forgiven and changed life through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (8)
We Preach Repentance (4-5)
We Preach Repentance (4-5)
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
Take a look back at verses 1-3. We all love Good News don’t we?
If you happen to have the NLT version this morning, you’ll see that it translates the word “gospel” as “Good News.”
The writer, Mark, uses the word to describe the message being preached.
We read from Malachi and Isaiah already, but notice what Mark is saying here:
“John the Baptist is coming! He is to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.”
What exactly was John’s message?
Verse 4 tells us.
He came baptizing and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Notice a few things about John’s baptism:
It came outside and apart from the temple, where normally religious activities such as this would take place.
It was specific in it’s call-for repentance!
It pointed to the One who provided the remission of sins.
Notice the word “repentance” with me. Generally, we use it poorly in our religious circles.
Usually, it’s a religious word that we feel we need to use in order to be part of the club.
And when asked, people can tell you what the definition is, yet very few actually understand it’s meaning.
Biblical repentance is an admitting and turning toward.
It means agreeing that God is right and you are wrong.
It means that when you say you are sorry, you really are sorry and your actions prove it.
Listen to how this word is used in other passages in the NT:
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Friends, a Gospel preached without repentance is not a Gospel!
I was talking to a gentleman this week and said, “God has given us Good News in the Gospel, but there can’t be Good News without there being bad news.”
Friends, the bad news is that we are dead in our sins.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
John’s message was that of repentance. When you share the Good News of the Gospel, are you calling people to repentance, or are we continuing to lead them astray with a false Gospel message?
Have you repented of your sin today, received Jesus, and have a new life in Christ?
We Preach Jesus Alone (7)
We Preach Jesus Alone (7)
And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.
John understood his place as it relates to Jesus.
He had a specific job; to warn people about the coming wrath and one to come who would be the propitiation for sin.
He didn’t take any glory and didn’t seek glory.
Notice that John says he isn’t even worthy to stoop down and untie His sandals.
The NLT tells us why:
John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals.
Untying and removing sandals was the job of slaves, and John says he isn’t even worthy to do this.
John says that he isn’t even worthy to bend over to do so!
Who alone is worthy to receive this type of honor?
State leaders demand this type of service.
Dictators force people to humble themselves.
Not so with Christ.
He alone is worthy of all honor and glory, yet He came as a servant.
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
This servant came to fulfill the message that John the Baptist preached, which was repentance.
Notice Mark 1:15
and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
The Gospel comes through Christ alone.
Protestants call this Solas Christus.
We trust Christ alone for salvation.
When John indicated that he was not worthy to stoop and untie His sandals, he was pointing to Christ.
We don’t preach Christ plus works.
We don’t preach Christ plus church membership.
We don’t preach Christ plus baptism.
We don’t preach Christ plus denominationalism.
Friends, in order to prepare the way when we are sharing the Good News of the Gospel, we must remember that we preach Christ alone.
Have you repented and placed your faith in Christ?
We Preach about a new life in Christ (8)
We Preach about a new life in Christ (8)
I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Follow John the Baptist’s example in preparing the way.
We preach repentance, preach Christ alone, and preach about a new life in Christ.
An inward and outward change. (Baptism HS)
This inward change can be described as regeneration. This describes the inner renewal of the heart by the Holy Spirit.
This change isn’t momentary.
It isn’t dependent upon you keeping it.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Remember what verse 7 said? How are we justified?
“By His grace.”
The grace given, not by works of righteousness, but given in mercy.
Friends, this inward change affects an outward change.
Show me an unchanged “Christian” and I’ll Biblically show you an unregenerate man.
A verbal proclamation. ( Telling others, visible baptism, witnessing, discipleship)
We preach a new life in Christ through a verbal proclamation.
How do men come to saving faith? Through the message and preaching of the Gospel!
Do you love your lost grandchild? Share the Gospel with them!
Are you concerned for your co-workers? Preach or herald the Good News of the Gospel to them!
Does it bother you that your relative, neighbor, or boss claims to be a Christian but doesn’t have an interest in the things of Christ? Share the Gospel with them!
If we intend on “Preparing the Way,” we need to ready, able, and actively sharing the Gospel using a verbal means.
A new desire to walk with Jesus daily.
With a new life in Christ, comes the desire to walk with Him daily. It’s hard to preach or share with a friend about the exciting new life He gives-having a debt paid for that you can’t possibly pay-while not walking with Jesus daily.
Some need to fall on their face in repentance, asking God to forgive their sin in order that they can be a faithful witness of His;
While others need to simply fall on their face in repentance to receive Christ. Friends, we have too many pretenders who have infiltrated themselves into the church today AND we are allowing them to have influence by not standing up and speaking scripture when it’s needed.
An awareness of sin and the desire to live for Christ.
This new life in Christ comes with an awareness of sin.
Since we’ve been born again and live in the newness of Christ (Rom. 6:4), our new desire is for Him rather than that of ourselves.
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
If we are to prepare the way through preaching and sharing the Good News, we must remember our new desire is for Him.
If we desire anything more than we desire the things of the Lord and our new nature, we may need to examine our lives before we preach to others.