A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3 NRSV)

As we prepare for Jesus, John the Baptist is not an easy person for us to listen to. He wore a camel's hair coat with a leather belt around his waist and he ate locusts and honey. His hair was long and unkempt. When the religious officials came to see him and be baptized by him, he insulted them by calling them names. Apparently John the Baptist had not read any church growth material that says first impressions are important.

John the Baptist seems out of place in our celebration of Advent. "'Tis the season to be jolly" as the popular carol goes. John isn't someone you would want to invite to your home for a holiday get-together. And yet each year we hear about John the Baptist who prepares us for Christ's coming.

John's task is to help us get ready to meet the Messiah. We can not find our way to Bethlehem without the help of this man. John points out the way for us. The people were waiting for John or someone like him for over 200 years. And for some 2,000 years, John comes to prepare us.

Centuries before, the prophet Isaiah spoke about the one who was to come. "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: `Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" John was that voice. His task was to lead people to Jesus the Messiah. Matthew reports that people from all over Jerusalem and Judea "were going out to him."

Dear Jesus, come soon! In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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