1In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ”
With the introduction of John the Baptist we enter into the 3 years of active ministry for Jesus. The story jumps over 25 years ahead after Joseph moves his young family back to Israel into the city of Nazareth. That is where Jesus grows up, learning the trade of carpenter from Joseph. John (the cousin of Jesus on Mary’s side) comes onto the scene declaring the advent of the Lord.
John plays a couple of interesting roles in the life of Christ. His first job is that of prophet as he acts a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. His message is the same as what we hear from the Old Testaments prophets – Repent! If you spend time reading any of the Old Testament prophets you will find that message repeated over and over. Repent and turn back to the Lord!
John also plays the role of “best man” for the Jesus, the Groom as He comes to get His bride, the church. One of the most beautiful images that God uses in the Bible is that of a marriage between His Son the Savior and us – the church. A marriage in the Jewish community was composed of a betrothal (engagement), a waiting time as the groom prepared a home for the new family, and a wedding. When the groom had a home ready, he sent the best man ahead of him to alert the bride that the groom was on his way. The wedding day had arrived! After centuries of waiting for the Messiah, the best man has come to announce his eminent arrival. Get ready because here He comes. How do you get ready? You repent! It is not complicated but it is compelling.
We hear the same message today with equal clarity. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Each of us must recognize that we are in desperate need of a Savior. God has taken care of that need in the person of Jesus Christ. He comes into our lives to take us unto Himself and it is a marriage made in heaven.