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.’”[a]
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.
John prepared the way for Jesus. People needed to prepare for the Messiah.
Jesus, I don’t want to change too much too quickly. I have found change to be painful. However, I know that there is so much in me that you want to change so that I am prepared to accept more of your life lived out in me. I need to be constantly mindful of you. However, I am struck by a defensive attitude on my part where I am not as constantly open to you. I believe that you will hurt me. I believe that you hold an axe and it is aimed ready to chop at me.
That image is not true. It is true for worthless trees that are burned up in a bonfire. Your own trees you prune and shape. You lovingly tend your trees so that they can bear more fruit. Help me to be less fearful. Help me not to just come to you expecting you to say, “Nice try, but everything has changed and what you have done is not enough.” I bring conceptions of who you are from my past. I impose them on you and make a caricature of you. Please be who you want to be and not who I construct in my fearful mind.
Let your love cast out my fear. Then prepare my heart and mind to receive more of you.
- Describe John.
- How were people prepared?
- Why might some Israelites feel that they did not need to change?
- In what ways do you sometimes feel you have arrived and do not need to entertain change?
- In what ways does the Spirit want to change you to be able to receive more of Jesus?