Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Part 3: Prepare The Way For the Lord!

A blood covenant. A star and a promise. A child. A man. Teacher. Healer. Miracle worker. Friend. Master. Servant. The Lord to come would be all these things, and more.

The Son of Man was born in lowly circumstances; a manger among the livestock in a little village called Bethlehem. The first to know of Him were the simplest and poorest among men; shepherds who tended the temple's sacrificial lambs.

At a tender age, the age determined by Jewish tradition that a boy be presented to the Lord for consecration (Exodus 13), Jesus is recognized as the long-awaited
Méleḫ ha-Mašíaḥ, the "Annointed King" Who would bring peace to Israel. Two elderly servants of God, Simeon and Anna, acknowledged His presence and praised God for bringing Israel's Redeemer during their lifetimes (Luke 2:22-38). And at the age of twelve during the Feast of the Passover, after three days of searching, Jesus' parents found Him in the temple speaking to teachers of the Law on matters that even the most seasoned would marvel, and giving answers with wisdom that overshadowed their own (Luke 2:41-51). "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 21:52)

Little is spoken of Jesus' youth and His maturing into a man. But it is believed that at the approximate age of thirty years He began His ministry and preaching the way to salvation. Prior to this, God had also raised another man, John the Baptist, who was called to prepare the world for the Christ's entry. Upon being questioned by the suspicious temple Priests, John replied he was not the Christ or an incarnation of Elijah. Rather, he recited the words God gave the prophet Isaiah in his response: "A voice of one calling: In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:3) And as John baptized with water, he immediately acknowledged Jesus as the Christ when he saw Him approaching. "Look, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). He watched as the Holy Spirit came "down from heaven as a dove and remain[ed] on Him" (v32) and knew his work was finished, for One greater than he was at last upon them.

As Jesus gathered His disciples and traveled all of Judea to preach His message to the Jews, He was met with a mixture of emotions. Wary trust. Disbelief. Greed. Jealousy. Anger. Fear. His teachings didn't meet with the beliefs to which the people adhered. They believed the Christ would be a conqueror, one who would drive oppressive Rome from their land and seat Himself as King to rule over them. His parables confused them. His miracles were taken for granted (Matthew 16:2-4; 8-10). He was accused of being a drunk, a glutton, of associating with sinners (Matthew 11:19) and of being "Beelzebub", or Satan (Mark 3:20-30) His own disciples were confused and unable to grasp the fullness of His message. And as Jesus moved closer to the fulfillment of God's plan, these emotions grew until hatred consumed Judea's rulers, priests and teachers of the Law, and betrayal for a few silver coins set the stage
for the beginning of the end.

I have been truly blessed by taking this walk again, by recalling from the beginning God's divine plan of salvation. I pray the words the Lord has given me have also blessed you and that as we move onto the finality, the glorious finish, it will inspire you to spread the Good News to a lost and dying world in need of a Savior.

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