John the Baptizer, earthly cousin of Jesus, was sent to prepare the world for the coming Messiah. His first sermon came from Isaiah’s book which said, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain shall be laid low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh will see the salvation of God” Luke 3:4-6.
In ancient times, when a city learned the king was coming to visit, they would work to make his trip as pleasant as possible. They would repair the roads so that the King could travel quickly and conveniently. A king who was prevented from visiting a town due to the road conditions would take the inconvenience as a rejection to his authority. In a similar way, there are some today who are kept away from Jesus because the road that leads to him has been blocked. Sometimes that road to Jesus is blocked by the people themselves. Some are so concerned about the cares of today that they don’t think about the eternal importance of Christianity. Some refuse to come to Jesus because of selfishness, busyness, or even ignorance. However some never hear the name of Jesus because of the roadblock of Christian people. Sadly, perhaps the church doesn’t emphasize the need to share the gospel in the community. Perhaps Christians don’t see a need to talk to people who don’t look like us or have a different path of life than we do. It is an affront to the gospel when we don’t prioritize bringing others to Jesus. It is a sad thing to allow ourselves to be a stumbling block to others.
John’s preaching is urging us to repair the road to welcome the king. John’s solution to fixing the rough and crooked road condition is our repentance. Repentance means a complete turn around of our life and mind. When I was growing up and we had people who would visit the house, my parents would make me clean my room and we would put out our best dishes. When we are ready for the King of Kings to dwell in our hearts we must clean out the bad and replace it with those things that are good. As we look at our lives today, we need to examine our hearts to be sure that nothing is getting in way of Jesus being in our lives and in our message to others.