1 This is the beginning of that excellent message about Jesus Christ. 2 Just like what is written in Isaiah the Prophet: “Watch! I am sending my messenger ahead of you,” who will build a road for you. 3 He will be “a voice shouting in the desert, make ready the Lord’s road, make straight his paths!” 4 John was baptizing in the desert, and preaching a baptism declaring repentance as a sign of release from sins.
make ready the Lord’s road
Mark and John understood what it meant to build a road for the Lord, but I’m not sure today’s reader does. We are so used to reading the New Testament as if it is all about making a personal decision for Christ. John did come preaching a need for personal repentance. But his message was bigger than that. He spoke to his whole society, and encouraged them to reform so that their new people would be a road, which the Messiah could take straight to his new throne. The “way” was not a way to God, but a way for God. It was not about getting to God, but making our lives acceptable to our creator, so that he could do what he wants – come and make his residence among us. That is why John condemned hypocrisy – not just among the Pharisees, but also in Herod. The powers that were did not like such talk then, and reacted violently – same as now.
My point is this: if we really want to make ready the Lord’s road today, we are going to have make more than a personal decision to accept Christ as our personal Saviour. We are going to have to reform our society, our homes, our churches, and our national governments, so that there is a road the LORD can take to them as well. Anything less than that is less that repentance. The excellent message demands that we believe it and act upon it.
LORD, give us courage to make your road ready, in our hearts, our families, and our communities.
 ευαγγελιον (1:1,14,15; 8:35; 10:29; 13:10; 14:9; 16:15).
 some mss add “who is the Son of God.”
 that part is a quote from Exodus 23:20.
 that part is a quote from Malachi 3:1.
 φωνη (1:3, 11, 26; 5:7; 9:7; 15:34, 37).
 Isaiah 40:3.
 some mss add “the one.”
 βαπτιζω (1:4f, 8f; 6:14, 24; 7:4; 10:38f; 16:16).
 κηρυσσω (1:4, 7, 14, 38f, 45; 3:14; 5:20; 6:12; 7:36; 13:10; 14:9; 16:15, 20).