“1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:1-8 NIV
I receive tons of emails every day announcing special deals, sales, or upcoming events. Prior to email, important events were made known through the mail. Prior to that, there were messengers who would need to go out to deliver important messages to those who needed to hear. Because there was no email or UPS in Jesus day, messengers were sent out to proclaim the coming of important and special events. When the day of the event arrived, these messengers went out again to give another final invitation and announcement.
The call of John the Baptist was the call to be a messenger. He would go out and “prepare the way for the Lord and make straight paths for him.” Back then, as today, if there is a messenger going out to deliver a message, there are certain requirements for that messenge to abide by.
The messenger shares a message that is not his own.
He recieves the message from a higher authority to pass along to others. For John the Baptist, his message came from God and his calling was to prepare the way for Jesus to come. While he called people to repentance, his purpose was to “prepare the way for the Lord…”
The messenger is not allowed to change the message or alter its meaning.
A messenger is not an effective messenger if he alters or changes the message from his master. We understand that it is not a postal worker’s job to open up letters we send to our friends and family, read it, and change it to what he feels is more important! The job of the postal worker or the messenger is to delvier the message as it was meant to be shared.
The messenger is not responsible for how the hearers respond to the message.
In other words, a reliable messenger cannot fail to delvier the message because he fears that it would offend the hearer. That is not his decision to make. Many times I shy away from being more bold in sharing my faith because I worry that people may reject the message, they may reject me, and I may fail as a messenger of His word. John shows me that while it is the messenger’s job to relay the message, it is NOT the messenger’s job to MAKE the hearer respond in a certain way.
When the mail-man brings me all of those credit card applications, I am very thankful that the mail-man does not take it as his responsiblity to MAKE me apply for those credit cards! He lets me make my own decisions! Likewise, when I share Christ with others, I must be respectful and allow others to make decisions for themselves. This changes my perspective on sharing Christ wtih others. As a messenger of Christ, success does not mean having people come to faith all the time. Success means being faithful to deliver the message that my King wants me to share.
Holy Spirit make me into a faithful messenger that is dedicated to hearing the message from You. Teach me to be faithful to share what You desire that I share. Increase my faith in You in order that I would do as You command with a heart that is sold out to You. Amen.