We Still Prepare the Way (Mark 1)

Title: We Still Prepare the Way for Jesus’ Coming.


We are now in the Advent season. Advent means the coming or arrival. All throughout Old Testament history they were waiting on the Messiah and every year during this season we celebrate His coming.

When I was in college I worked as a McDonald’s manager. I worked full time and I went to school full time. I did 5 years of tribulation period there and Jesus has not come back yet so He is coming back post tribulation. The McDonalds that I was a manager at was a franchise. With the McDonalds system, as a franchise, a couple times a year we would have a corporate audit. There was a specific person who worked for corporate who would come in and spend 2 days auditing our store. They would check the paper work, but mostly they would check us for cleanliness and service times. They would time us in the drive thru, they would time us in the grill, they would time us on the front counter, and they would time us everywhere else. Looking bad on this audit would mean more audits and other consequences for the franchise. These audits had scheduled dates. Because these audits were so important we worked extra hard getting ready. The days and weeks prior to the audit were filled with extra hours and extra staff to clean the store and be ready. Many times I came in extra early the day of the audit and the closing crew from the previous night was still at the store cleaning. We cleaned under the counter, under the grill, and under everywhere else. We had to prepare the store for the coming of the corporate people. We had to be ready.

You know, there are Biblical parallels to this story. In the passage we are going to look at we see the text talk about John preparing the way for Jesus. I would like to take a few moments and talk about how John prepared the way for Jesus and also show how even though Jesus has already come, We Still Prepare the Way for Jesus’ Coming. How do we prepare the way for Jesus’ coming? Listen and you will hear.

Let’s start by reading Mark 1:1-8:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

  • Mark opens his gospel with three Old Testament quotations. The first of these quotations is from Mal 3:1 and the second is from Isaiah 40:3. The third is Exodus 23:20. Isaiah is the strongest quotation.
    • I know as you read this you may notice that Mark says, “Isaiah the prophet” and then quotes Malachi. Well, this was common. The N.T. writers knew the O.T. so well that many times they would mention several O.T. quotations at once.
    • I find the quotation in Isa 40:3 particularly interesting. In the context it says: “make straight in the desert a Highway for our God.” It makes it sound like this messenger will symbolically be clearing a highway. This messenger will be getting rid of the trees and stumps and making a type of King’s Highway.
    • I think that is what John the Baptist did in a symbolic way. He prepared the way of the Lord in people’s hearts. He did this by what follows.
      • Before the U.S. president comes to a town there are traffic detours, etc
      • If the U.S. President were to come to our area there would be road closures and detours to prepare the way for the President. Actually, they would work with the local authorities ahead of time to prepare the way. I am an expert on this because I watch the show Blue Bloods. The show is about the Police Department in New York City and Tom Selleck stars at the Police Commissioner. Anytime a dignitary is coming they make plans. A few years ago Meagan and I were driving back from Cincinnati and there were many road closures. The whole highway on Interstate 71 was shut down. We got off and navigated home. Later we found out the President was coming to town.
      • We prepared the way for corporate to come to McDonalds.
        • John the Baptist did this symbolically in the people’s hearts.
      • In verse 4, following these quotations, Mark starts talking about John the Baptist.
        • We, the reader, don’t yet know anything about John the Baptist. But now Mark introduces him. I think it is very interesting that Mark introduces him in this way.
        • John follows the Old Testament quotations about this messenger who will prepare the way of the Lord. I think that Mark is trying to tell the reader that John was that messenger. John was sent to prepare the way of the Lord.
        • Mark gave those three O.T. quotations to give a little more credit to who John was. Isaiah was known as the greatest O.T. prophet. Inserting his name probably helped build the case that John the Baptist was this messenger.
      • Verse 4 gives some more ideas of how John prepared the way of the Lord. John prepared the way of the Lord by baptizing. But John was not baptizing in a special temple or other religious place. Mark tells us he was baptizing in the wilderness.
        • But John did not only baptize. John was proclaiming repentance for forgiveness. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
      • Verse 5 talks more about this baptism. Verse 5 adds that all the country of Judea and Jerusalem were being baptized. I think this is a little hyperbole. I really don’t believe that all the country was being baptized. But I do think that a lot of the people were. Even those not getting baptized were probable coming out to see what was going on. Matt 3:7 tells us the Pharisees were coming out. John was making quite an impact and rightfully so, because John was preparing the way for the Lord.
        • Verse 5 continues to clue us in to how John prepared the way of the Lord. He prepared the way by baptizing them in the Jordan River. They were also confessing their sins.
          • We also must do this. We cannot take sin out of the message of the Gospel. In Acts 2:38 Peter had just gotten finished with his Pentecost sermon and they asked how they could be saved and he said “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus.”
        • Then we come to verse 6. I think it might be easy to come to verse 6 and think, “Why does it matter?” well it does matter. It matters because I think that Mark was trying to establish John as a prophet. Jesus calls him among the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28) For Mark’s Jewish readers they may recognize this type of dress comparable to Elijah in 2Kings 1:8.
        • But verse 7continues to tell us how John prepared the way of the Lord. John was preaching and what he said pointed to Jesus.
          • He said that someone is coming after him
          • John said that the one who comes after Him is Mightier than him.
            • Isn’t that humble? Here John has all these people coming out to him yet he acknowledges that Jesus will be mightier than him.
          • John is not worthy to unstrap this person’s sandals.
            • Only slaves washed feet and untied sandals. John is saying that he is not worthy to be Jesus’ slave. Very humble.
          • As John prepared the way of the Lord, John pointed to Jesus and did this in humility.
            • This reminds me of John 3:30 where he said that Christ must increase and he must decrease.
            • John is the person preparing the way. He is not the important person and while preparing the way John recognized his place in God’s plan.
          • Finally, in verse 8 John gives the contrast between the way he is baptizing and the way Jesus will baptize. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit.
            • This is significant because in the Old Testament only God could give the Holy Spirit.
            • John calls the one to come equal with God.
            • Also, Mark strategically places this as the 8th verse in His Gospel. In the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel He is saying that Jesus is Lord!

John prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming. We must prepare the way for Jesus’ second coming. Look at 2 Peter 3:8-10: But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

  • Now there are different view on when and how Jesus will come again. But none can dispute that Jesus will come again. But we must prepare the way.
    • We must preach the Gospel as John did.
      • We must do this in humility.
        • There is no other way to introduce Jesus. Only in humility. He is the King of Kings.
        • That means that we preach the Gospel of Jesus not the Gospel of Steve. We must recognize that Jesus is greater than us as John did.
          • We must lead people to Jesus. That means that we recognize our place in God’s plan.
        • Remember how the secret service prepares the way for the President. The person(s) preparing the way are not the important person but they do have a purpose
        • We prepared the way for the corporate representative at McDonald’s but none of us were that important person.
          • I once heard Chuck Swindoll talk about serving as an associate pastor. While he was an associate pastor the job was to take care of the desires of the senior pastor. Our job is to serve at the pleasure of King Jesus.
        • As John did we must preach that people confess their sins and be baptized into Jesus.
      • L. Moody shared: The monument I want after I am dead is a monument with two legs going around the world—a saved sinner telling about the salvation of Jesus Christ.
        • We must also do this with boldness and sometimes that may lead to death as it later did for John that Baptist.


I told you about those corporate audits. In 5 years as a manager I worked many of those audits. But after a few years corporate changed the rules of the audits. Corporate made it that they would come for a 2 day announced visit. The first 2 days they came we knew that they were coming. Then after that corporate visit they would come within a month and do an audit that would be unannounced. We had very little idea when they were coming. This was more difficult we had to be ready all the time.

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming. We now celebrate Jesus’ first coming, but in doing so we must prepare the way for His second coming. Like the unannounced visit of corporate to McDonalds, Jesus will be unannounced. He will come like a thief in the night. So, we must prepare the way. We do this by preaching the Gospel. We preach the Gospel as John the Baptist did: preaching confession of sin with repentance and doing this in humility. We still prepare the way for Jesus’ coming!


Let’s pray.


God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


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