Luke 1:17 “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
The purpose of John the Baptist’s life is the same as that of today’s church: to turn people away from disobedience and to bring them back to the Lord. In John’s day, this was a hard mission to undertake and fulfill because the people believed that performing their religious rites and following the rules of their structured faith were all that was necessary to receive God’s favor and blessing. As long as they didn’t break any laws and that they maintained the current community customs, then they would be accepted by God. They didn’t have to change their ways or make public confessions of their sins. As far as the majority of Jewish believers were concerned, their relationship to God was undiminished and His demands upon them were centered on routine religious rites.
But John the Baptist’s ministry changed all of that. God’s people were told that they needed to repent of their pride and acknowledge that their lives were sinful. John’s mission was to get them to turn from their disobedient ways and prepare their hearts and minds for the coming of the Lord. Without repentance, they would never be restored to God’s favor. Without changing their lives, they would not be given the chance of entering God’s kingdom.
John’s obedience to this ministry of confrontation and confession would eventually cost him his life. He knew it was dangerous and involved all kinds of risks, but he maintained the mission God had set before him. If he were alive today, he would have to undergo the same unpopularity and experience similar dangers. He would be preaching not just to the world at large, but to a church that has also lost its way.
Questions for personal reflection
Where, when, and how do I constantly disobey God? Is my pride preventing me from repenting?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we confess to living inauthentic Christian lives at times and to disappointing You with our insincere devotion to God. We are imperfect and human, selfish and sinful. You know us completely, especially when we allow our pride to obstruct our faith and diminish our devotion to You alone. Help us to change what we must; grant us the ability to see the consequences of our sins. Guide us to follow Your ways and keep us on Your favored path. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.