“As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’” (Mark 1:2-3).
Innumerable Old Testament prophecies revolved around Jesus’ life and ministry. Prophets foretold His virgin birth, the place of His birth, the manner of His death, and so much more. The Gospels point out how Jesus’ actions during His time on earth fulfilled those prophecies. But though Jesus was absolutely the main focus of the Old Testament predictions, He wasn’t the only one who was foretold. John the Baptist was also a key figure in several prophecies.
John’s role was simple: prepare the way for the coming Messiah. He and Jesus were born just a few months apart, but he began his ministry earlier, going out into the wilderness and preaching repentance. He baptized large crowds of people who had come to hear his teachings, all while pointing them to the coming Savior who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. He made sure everyone knew that he himself was nobody in comparison with the one who was coming. “‘After me comes one who is mightier than I,’” he proclaimed, “‘the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie’” (Mark 1:7).
John knew his part in this great plan God had been orchestrating from the beginning. He knew that he was just the messenger. It would have been easy to ascribe immense importance to himself, to even lead others to believe he was himself the promised Messiah. But instead, he chose humility. He considered his role as the messenger to be important, and he took it seriously. To him, preparing for the Messiah was just as vital to the overall plan as Jesus’ own ministry would be. He didn’t envy Jesus; instead, he was honored to have the privilege of preparing the way for Him.