19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
When John the Baptist began to preach in Judea, he raised many questions in the minds of people who lived during that time. John was an unexpected part of the story of Jesus. Even though many were looking for the Messiah, they did not expect John the Baptist, so when John started preaching, they want to know who he was.
Chief among those who had questions were the religious rulers of Israel. They “sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?” They were concerned about someone who was different from them upsetting the established order. To them, John was a wildcard, a loose cannon, someone they had not been expecting.
Of course, John knew that they were expecting Jesus Christ, the anointed one who would save Israel. So John told them — “he confessed, and denied not; but confessed” — “I am not the Christ.” John could have taken some of the credit for himself. He could have tried to position himself to get something out of the deal. He could have tried to win some respect, fame, or glory, but he didn’t. He told them in a straight-forward manner, “I am not the Christ.”
But they persisted. They said, “Art thou Elias? Art thou that prophet?” The Jews have a prophecy that says Elijah would return before the end of days, but John was not Elijah. The Jews also have a prophecy from Moses that says God would raise up another prophet from among the Jews, but John was not that prophet either. Both times, John said, “No, I am not who you think I am.”
But his questioners won’t leave without an answer. They demand, “Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?” And, finally, John says, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.” John borrows these words from the book of Isaiah, one of the great Old Testament prophets. Ray Stedman points out that “Isaiah tells how highways are built: He says, ‘Every valley shall be exalted, every mountain and hill brought down; the crooked made straight, and the rough places plain.’ Check with a modern road builder and he will tell you that is exactly how a highway is built: the low spots are filled in, the high spots are leveled, the crooked ones are straightened out, and the rough ones are made smooth.”
The interesting thing about the preparing of the way for the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ is that the way is not being prepared for the people to go to God, but for God to come to the people. When God comes to us, we realize that we are all on level ground. Those who feel they are poor and worthless are raised up. Those who are mighty and powerful are pulled down. When God comes to us, we all realize that we are equal before him. We are all sinners who have fallen short of his glory. The paving of the way is the preparing of our hearts to receive the One who will still accept us despite our flaws and wrongdoings. That is what John did. He warned people to get ready because God was opening a door in Heaven, extending a staircase from the sky, and stepping down in the form of Jesus Christ. John’s task was to help people prepare their hearts to receive Him.
Dear friend, God prepared a way to you, is your heart prepared to receive God? He is here today, ready to accept you, but you must be ready to receive him. If you want to receive Him, allow me to show you how you can do that.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.