“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.”’
“Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:1-6)
Emergency vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances use flashing lights, bright colors, and loud sirens to get our attention. They announce that they are on an important mission, and we need to make way and provide room for them to do their jobs. John the Baptist was sort of like those bright lights. He was sent to announce that a big event was about to happen, and people needed to prepare themselves for the arrival of God’s Messiah.
About 700 years before John was born, God used a prophet named Isaiah to tell us that a “voice of one crying in the wilderness” would come to prepare the way for the Lord. By sending John the Baptist, God was fulfilling that prophecy from hundreds of years ago.
When Jesus was born, angels announced His presence (Luke 2:9-14), which is where we get the Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” After Jesus had grown, His cousin John was also a sort of herald, or messenger. He announced to everyone that Jesus was here and ready to begin His ministry of loving others and teaching them truth.
To do this, John called God’s people to repent from their sin. To repent means “to change one’s mind” or “to turn away from sin.” Just like today, people back then were choosing to follow their own way instead of God’s way. But John knew that God’s way was the only way that truly leads to life. God is always wanting to point us to what is best for us—and that is exactly why He sent John the Baptist to point us to Jesus!
John the Baptist liked to hang out by the Jordan River, so draw a picture of a river on today’s ornament. Let the river remind you that God’s grace and love never runs out for those who believe and repent of their sins. Read Ephesians 2:8-9 and remind each other that salvation is a gift from God to everyone who repents and believes. Thank God for the gift of forgiveness available to us only because of Jes