The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,[b]
2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”[c]--
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[d]
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[e] water, but he will baptize you with[f] the Holy Spirit.”
The Baptism and Testing of Jesus9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[g] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Jesus Announces the Good News!
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said.
"The kingdom of God has come near.
Repent and believe the good news!”
Jesus Calls His First Disciples16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
A voice is calling,
"Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
In one sense, all the Old Testament prophets were voices crying in the wilderness. Each one was a mouthpiece of God, who was calling out a message of repentance and hope in a desert place - in order to clear the way for the Lord and to straighten the highway for the God of Israel.
For centuries, the united message of these faithful men was to call the nation of Israel to repent of their sins, to turn away from their apostate ways, to return to the Lord their God, and to prepare the way for the glorious arrival of their promised Messiah. As a nation, Israel was instructed to turn back to the Lord and renounce their wicked ways. For centuries, they were challenged to turn from their evil deeds and to give God their complete loyalty and obedience. The whole nation was called to repent of their sin and behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world... and they were to trust His Word and keep His commands.
In the Church age, we recognise John the Baptist as that lone, prophetic voice, who fulfilled this prophecy of Isaiah. John, the son of Zechariah the priest, was that lone voice crying in the wilderness, urging his countrymen to repent of their sin and to, "prepare ye the way of the Lord." John the Baptist was the person ordained by God to make His paths straight and declare the arrival of the King of Israel to a nation that needed to repent from centuries of idolatry and sin.
At Christ's First Coming, Israel had God's promised Messiah-King in their midst, but they did not recognise Him and rejected Him. They conspired to have Him crucified on a Roman cross - which opened up opportunity for Gentiles to be saved and brought into the family of God.
And so their Messiah-King ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high and He remains seated there until He returns at His Second Coming, when Israel as a nation WILL accept Him as their God and King.
We are also told that Elijah will be one of the prophets that fulfils this role, prophesied by Isaiah, at the time of Christ's Second Coming, when He returns to save Israel in the clouds of glory with all His holy angels, to set up His Millennial Kingdom, and rule the world in righteousness and equity.
Men of Israel at the time of Christ who believed the voice of John the Baptist and trusted in Jesus as their Lord, have already received the many benefits of trusting in their prophesied Messiah, for their sins are forgiven, eternal life is their portion, and each one is being conformed, day by day, in the beautiful image and likeness of the
Saviour, in Whom they placed their trust.
But all saved people, both Jew and Gentile, who have believed on the only begotten Son of God, have become part of the one new man in Christ... and all have been promised an eternal inheritance, which is kept for us in heaven.
Men and women, both Jew and Gentile alike, who will
place their trust in Christ as their Messiah during
the coming 'Time of Jacob's Trouble' - and survive to the end -
will likewise be saved by grace through faith,
and will enter Christ's Millennial Kingdom in their physical bodies.
In this 1000 year reign of Christ, the lamb will lie down with the wolf and the ravages of war and famine will be no more.
Each one will sit under his own fig tree and eat grapes from his own laden vine... and Christ will sit on the throne of David and rule the nations with a rod of iron.
Those who place their trust in Christ as their Messiah, during the coming 'Time of Jacob's Trouble' - but are killed before the end - will likewise be saved by grace through faith, and will enter Christ's Millennial Kingdom, in their risen, glorified bodies. Today, however, it is the Church through whom God is using to reconcile people to Himself - and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Like the prophets of old and the angels who proclaimed the birth of Christ so many years ago, we too have the responsibility to be voices, crying out the message of salvation in a lost and dying world.
We too have been commissioned
to bring good news of great joy to the unsaved masses
- to Jews and Gentiles alike, by declaring the gospel of grace to those who are dead in their sins... for there is only one name under heaven, whereby we must be saved... the lovely name of Jesus.
May we take the role and responsibility that we have been awarded by our risen Saviour seriously.
May we faithfully carry out the good work that God has prepared us to do and become a voice crying out in the wilderness, in a world of spiritually dead souls, who need a Saviour to save them from a lost eternity.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many prophets who proclaimed the coming of the Saviour, and thank You that by grace through faith I have believed their testimony and become part of the one new man in Christ. Help me to be a voice calling out in this wilderness of sin, proclaiming God's message of reconciliation to those that need a Saviour. Help me testify of the truth of God's Word - that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners through His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection - and that by faith in His name, lost sinners may be forgiven of their sin and declared righteous - to the glory of God. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.