"On Jordan's Banks"

David Bast

READ : Mark 1:1-8
John 1:6-8

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 3:2)

All four Gospels start with John, that austere wilderness preacher of repentance. Matthew brings him onstage just before the start of Jesus' ministry. Mark does the same following a one-line introduction. Luke tells about the announcement of John's coming birth before the more famous annunciation by Gabriel to Mary, and the fourth Gospel mentions John in its prologue. We know him as John the Baptist, which makes him sound like a fundamentalist preacher (actually, he was a fundamentalist preacher!). But the ancient church called him John the Prodromos: the Forerunner.

John dressed funny, ate weird food, worked in the boonies, and said a lot of harsh things. But all of this served a purpose. John was a one-man messianic advance team, looking and living like Elijah, meeting the people in the wilderness like Moses, speaking words from Isaiah. In fact, when the Jerusalem authorities sent representatives to investigate him, John told them he wasn't even a prophet, let alone the Messiah. He was just a voice, crying, “Prepare the way!” Get ready; God is coming!

How do you prepare the way for God to come to you? By doing what John urged: repenting. An 18th-century Frenchman named Charles Coffin wrote the Advent hymn “On Jordan's Banks.” Its second verse tells us what to do:

Then cleansed be every life from sin:

make straight the way for God within,

and let us all our hearts prepare

for Christ to come and enter there.

Audio Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0bU5hje-Ik&list=PL5DE199EC428EC22F&index=39


Lord, help me turn from sin back to you.