Note: At North Baptist Church we are currently on a 31 week journey through the entire Bible. Called The Story, this journey finds us discussing the same Bible passage in our personal reading time, the sermon, Adult Bible Fellowships, and Small Groups. I figured I would post a few thoughts each week as I go through my lesson prep.
In Southern New Jersey—where I grew up—there is an island town called Wildwood. They have a large beach, several amusement parks on piers over the beach, and a wide boardwalk lined with carnival games and unhealthy food. The boardwalk is miles long, so long that they have a motorized tram that rides up and down the boardwalk, charging people to drive them to the piers. For those tired of walking, it is a welcome respite to your body. But for those walking on the boardwalk, the trams can be annoying or even startling. You see, each tram is equipped with a loud speaker used to get people out of this moving vehicle. All up and down the boardwalk you can here this annoying recording blaring Watch the tram car, please!
As we start week 23 of The Story at North Baptist Church, I wonder if the Israelites felt the same way about John the Baptist. In Matthew’s account, John is first introduced after the birth narrative of Jesus. He is preaching out in the wilderness, telling people to prepare because something big is coming: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). For many, John was a crazed lunatic; he dressed bizarrely, he preached nonsense, and he was annoying. But for those who knew their Scripture, they could have seen what John was preparing the people for: the Lord. You see, Isaiah had described a day like this, a day when a voice would be heard from the desert, saying, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God…and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” (Isaiah 40:3, 5).
As we will see this Sunday in the sermon and in ABF, John is preparing the people to meet their king. Like a herald announcing a coming king—or an annoying recording announcing the oncoming tram—John lets his contemporaries—and us—know that something big is coming.Tweet