4-Life in the Kingdom of God - Preparing for the King
By Colleen Donahue
1. When a king decides to physically visit one of his colonies, there is a protocol that is followed. Some time before his visit a royal spokesman comes to prepare the way for the king and to prepare the people for the king's coming. It's a big deal to have the king come, the same way it's a big deal when a president or prime minister shows up. The preparations take a lot of time and trouble and must be done before the king arrives.
Four hundred years had passed since God had sent a prophet to Israel. It had been a long, silent four centuries. But Isaiah had predicted that a "voice" would come to prepare a way for God the King to come. And so the people waited.
And Jesus confirmed this after He had started officially in ministry.
2. It was at a time that Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to Nazareth from Egypt that a man began to appear on the scene with a unique message. Who was the man and what was his message?
Jesus the King was only a small boy when John started to prepare the people for his coming. Jesus could not start his ministry until the age of 30 when a man could officially do so. And so John told the people to repent of their sins and turn to God because "the Kingdom was near". Jesus was alive on earth but had not yet stepped out onto center stage.
3. John the Baptist was like a rock star. The common people immediately recognized him as the prophet they were waiting for (or at least thought he was the one) and came to wherever John preached to hear and respond.
But the Jewish leaders just stood at a distance and watched. The people were leaving them in droves to go hear John the Baptist and they didn't like it. Why should THEY repent and be baptized? After all, they were children of Abraham. What did John have to say to these leaders?
4. When the people heard that every tree that doesn't produce good fruit would be chopped down, they knew John was talking about them and so they asked John what they should do? John give them several practical examples.
5. Repentance of sins is not a light thing. John wanted the people to see that it always issues forth in changed living. That's because repentance is changing our thinking towards God and that changes the way that we treat each other. And that's what John meant in as recorded in:
Matthew 3:8 / or Luke 3:8
6. John made it clear that he was preparing the people for THE KING who would be coming soon. What would be the difference in John's baptism (using water) and the baptism that Jesus would provide?
Matthew 3:11 / or Luke 3:16
7. John was absolutely clear that his role was the "voice" to prepare us for The King. What preparation would every man and women need to make?
8. This was to prepare the people at that time for the fact that Jesus would be physically walking in their midst. But later, after Jesus died, the apostles prepared the people in the same way but with one addition.
First would come a baptism of repentance. When we are baptized, we make a public declaration before the world that we have changed our thinking (repented) and we now follow God. But after this, we are meant to receive the gift of Christ's own Spirit to indwell our own.
9. The day came when Jesus was ready to start his ministry. The "kick off" was to be Jesus getting baptized by John. How did John respond to this?
John had come on official business and it was only fitting that God's recognition of Jesus would come through John.
Matthew 3:16-17 / or Luke 3:21-22
10. You'll remember that Jesus had been born without sin -- conceived by the Holy Spirit and born through the virgin Mary.
What two startling things happened at Jesus' baptism?
John the Baptist had never met his cousin Jesus so how did he realize it was Jesus that had come to him?
Jesus was the first person back on earth full of God's Spirit. The Father was sending Him so that we could have a living example of what we all were originally meant to be: men and women full of God's Spirit and living their lives in partnership with Him. Therefore when John baptized Jesus it was not for repentance. It was God's official announcement that this was His Son and He was full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was now officially ready to start his own ministry.
11. The "voice" that prepares the people for the King's coming gets a lot of attention. John had crowds coming to hear him and be baptized day after day. In today's terms he was a super star. But now, the King arrives and just as fast all eyes turn to the King -- as they should. John's own disciples noticed this and were perturbed. But when they asked John about it I'm sure they were shocked by his answer.
12. You see John knew his place and purpose in the Kingdom of God. He had fulfilled his part and knew that his ministry was almost over. If John had continued in full ministry after Jesus arrived he would have been undermining his own ministry -- which was to prepare the people for The King's coming. So John went on to explain to his disciples why all eyes -- including theirs -- should be on Jesus. As you read these verses list for yourself all the facts that John gives us about Jesus.
13. John's humility is an example for all of us who believe in Jesus. Once we know the King, we become the King's ambassadors in the corner of the world where we live. We become like John the Baptist in that God uses us to appeal to those who don't know Jesus. Our job is to point people to Jesus so that they can return to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20
And once they know Jesus, we take a backseat to the word that Jesus himself will begin to speak in their lives. And therefore like John what begins to happen?
What did John's own disciples do?
14. One of John's disciples that started following Jesus was Andrew. He was Simon Peter's brother. After spending only part of a day with Jesus, Andrew was convinced they had found the Messiah. So what did he do?
Andrew brought his brother to meet Jesus and the rest is history. You and I can also trust Jesus with the people we bring to him.