Preparation for the Radical by the Radical
The text this week is Mark 1:1-8. This seems like a true Advent text compared to the one last week. It talks of John the Baptist preparing the way for the arrival of Jesus. Mark cites the Old Testament prophet Isaiah about making straight the paths and of crying out in the wilderness. This is a clarion call for the arrival of someone dramatically different, doing a radically new thing.
How appropriate then that God chose John the Baptist to prepare the way for His Son. God has given us a most radical figure in John. He is as an old line says, “a wild and crazy guy”. John is out in the wilderness, baptizing people in the river Jordan for the forgiveness of their sins. This itself was a radical challenge to the religious authorities of the day, which is surely a portent of what was to come via Jesus’s ministry. John was also personally radical as he lived on locusts and wild honey and was dressed in camel’s hair. He was the original guy on the streetcorner crying out to repent as the end is well-nigh.
All of this makes sense to us because we have the advantage of hindsight. At the time those who witnessed what John was doing likely did not fully understand what he was all about or what this person he was announcing was going to do. This is a good reminder that we approach Scripture in faith because our belief in the resurrection makes it all make sense. For those living out John’s radicalism in the moment, we can only enviously wonder at the power and spectacle of it all.
We Too Can Make Paths Straight
This text offers a great lesson that we too can emulate John. Perhaps not to the point of following his culinary and sartorial examples, but we can get radical and make straight the paths of the Lord, nonetheless. We can in word and deed go forward and proclaim that there is one whom we should follow. One whose sandals we are not worthy to untie (Verse 7). We can joyfully and boldly proclaim this radical new thing that God is doing through His Son Jesus. All we can do in this world is to proclaim the love of God, and work for the in-breaking of His kingdom here on earth.
Doing this will mark us as radicals. So be it. It is a radical thing that God has done, and is doing through His Son. It is our joy to be a part of it all. So, this Advent season, get your symbolic camel’s hair coat and wild locusts out and boldly make straight the paths of the Lord in all you think, say, and do. Always remember that we are inclined to radically obey because we radically believe.
Praise Be to God