“He said, ‘I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as Isaiah the prophet said’” (John 1:23).
John the Baptist gained great notoriety quickly in Israel with his baptism and his message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. With so many people flocking to him, the Jewish authorities sent a delegation of priests and Levites to investigate him.
First they asked John, “Who are you?” His behavior was certainly not what they would have expected from the son of a priest. John’s response, “I am not the Christ,” only added to their confusion. When John answered in the negative to their questions if he was Elijah or the Prophet, the exasperated members of the delegation then demanded, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:19–22).
Rather than claiming to be someone important, he humbly referred to himself merely as “a voice of one crying in the wilderness.” In answering the delegation’s question about his identity, he shifted the focus away from himself and onto Christ. His quote of Isaiah 40:3, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” was a challenge both to the nation and to his questioners to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah.
The imagery is of a road being leveled and smoothed out in preparation for the visit of an Eastern king. John and Isaiah likened the hearts of Messiah’s people to a desolate wilderness, through which a smooth, level road needed to be prepared for His coming. John was the laborer, preparing the road in advance of the King.
As you have opportunity to share the gospel with others, remind them that the road to Jesus is smooth and level—accessible not by special ability but by the calling, inviting grace of God. Thank God for those who pointed the way for you.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610