Matthew 3:1-12 — Meeting People Where They Are And Preparing the Way for Jesus — John the Baptist Did It And So Should We!

Posted: September 2, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 3:1-12 — John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness. It is not necessarily our current definition of wilderness. In the Bible, wilderness meant anything that was not a town, community, or farm. It was the untamed areas. But nonetheless John was preaching in the wilderness. Wilderness is symbolic of being lost and wandering in the Bible. So, it is that John preaching in the wilderness is symbolic of preaching to a lost generation. He met them where they were at and He prepared them to meet Jesus.

The wilderness is an important symbol for the Israelites in that it represented years of wandering after failing to obey God. For 40 years until every last adult that refused to obey God had died, they wandered in the wilderness, the inhospitable land of the Sinai Peninsula. The symbolism of wilderness would not have been lost on the Jews of the day. John was saying that they were a lost and wandering people who had strayed from God. The fact that he was there in the wilderness meant that he was taking the gospel to the people where they were at. He was not preaching in the synagogues or the Temple. He was preaching where the people were. He took the message to the street. He met people where they were at both literally and figuratively. It is important for us to remember that we live in a spiritual wilderness time today in America. We find ourselves where we are dealing with second generations of people who have never darkened the door of a church, had parents who did not ever darken the door of a church, don’t want to go to church and do not know hardly anything, if at all, about God, Jesus, or even know people who attend church. We are a wandering nation believing in false gods, pleasure, and pursuing what we think is right for us. This is where we have to meet them. We do not wait for them to come to us. We must go them where they are at. We must encounter them across fences in the backyard. We must encounter them while at soccer practice with our kids. We must encounter them at our office, factory, or on a job site. We must encounter those who have not heard the gospel where we live, work, and play. John brought the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, to the streets and so should we. We should not leave evangelism to experts or to our preacher. If we are Christians as we claim to be, we are all priests of the gospel. We are called to go and make disciples. We cannot make disciples if we are not sharing the good news with the people in our spheres of influence. We must get our hands dirty both physically and emotionally with people. Get to know them. Develop relationships. Share the gospel. It starts with meeting them where they are at just like John the Baptist.

John the Baptist plowed the field for Jesus. He made the ground ready for the Jesus seed. He was preparing others to meet Jesus. People who do not know Jesus need to get ready to meet Him. We can prepare them by explaining their and our need for forgiveness of our multitudes of sins. They need to be prepared by hearing that no one is, has been, or ever will do enough good things to make up for our multitudes of sins. They need to hear that we cannot simple do more good than bad. The bad permanently taints us in the eyes of a perfect God. They need to hear that there is something more after this life and where you spend depends on your relationship with God. They need to hear that there is nothing we can do ourselves to prevent us from spending eternity in pain and suffering while separated eternally from God. They need to hear that no matter how we try to rationalize away the truth of God that it does not stop making it true. They need to hear that they need a Savior. They need to hear that there is only one way to be saved from condemnation for our continual sins that permanently separate us from God. They need to hear all of this in love not hate. They need to hear this because we have developed relationships with them and they are willing to listen to us. They need to hear about Jesus. We need to plow the ground. We need to plant the seeds. We need to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. We need to set the stage where they want and need to meet Jesus.

Father, help us to have the guts to share our story with the people in our daily lives. Help us to truly live out being a Christ follower every day not just on Sundays or at special community events. Help us to be missionaries daily whether we are working out in our yard in our neighborhood, whether we are at the park or the ballgame, or whether we are at our place of employment. Help us to be missionaries where we live, work, and play. Help us to live out our faith daily. Help us to share our faith daily. Help to develop relationships with people. Help us be intentional. Help us not to write-off the world as a world gone mad and meet people where they are at. Help us. Amen.

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