Read: Mark 1:1-3

. . . the voice of one crying in the wilderness. (v. 3a)

The four Gospels all include John the Baptist and a quote from Isaiah 40. John prepares the way and thus lays the groundwork for Jesus. Curiously, if you read the Bible closely, there seems to be a difference of opinion how to translate Isaiah 40 (minor wording differences aside). Isaiah 40:3 says, “A voice cries, ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.’” But when the evangelists quote this, the comma moves over so that it says “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’” So is the voice crying in the wilderness about preparing a way or is the voice saying that the prepared way itself is in the wilderness?

Maybe it’s both! Yes, John the Baptist preaches in the wilderness but at the same time makes it clear that the way he prepares goes through the wilderness, too. In a couple of days we will see how that helps us understand Jesus correctly. But for now, we can notice that John’s fulfillment of Isaiah 40 demonstrates that God has all along been carefully preparing the way.

The advent of God’s Messiah was not from out of the blue. It was not some plan B for God after things with Israel did not work out. No, what we celebrate this month was long anticipated. Advent is all about anticipation, waiting, and preparation. Thankfully, God has been up to all that for a very long time now! —Scott Hoezee

Prayer: O Lord, prepare also our own hearts to receive the gift of Advent, Jesus, your Son. Amen.