Madagascar’s National Road 5 offers the beauty of a white sand coastline, palm forests, and the Indian Ocean. Its 125 miles of two-track road, bare rock, sand, and mud, however, have given it a reputation for being one of the worst roads in the world. Tourists looking for breathtaking views are advised to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, an experienced driver, and an onboard mechanic.
John the Baptist came to announce the good news of the coming Messiah to those traveling on rough roads and through barren landscape. Repeating the words of the prophet Isaiah written centuries earlier, he urged curious crowds to “prepare the way for the
John knew that if the people of Jerusalem were going to be ready to welcome their long-awaited Messiah their hearts needed to change. Mountains of religious pride would need to come down. Those in the valley of despair because of their broken lives would need to be lifted up.
Neither could be done by human effort alone. Those who refused to respond to the Spirit of God by accepting John’s baptism of repentance failed to recognize their Messiah when He came (Luke 7:29–30). Yet those who saw their need for change discovered in Jesus the goodness and wonder of God.
Father in heaven, we need You to do in us what we cannot do for ourselves. Please remove any mountain of pride or valley of despair that would keep us from welcoming You into our lives.
Repentance clears the way for our walk with God.
This passage is not a message of hope only for exiled Jews. It is for us all. Isaiah is proclaiming a universal truth: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” For Jesus’s followers, trouble, sorrow, and exile last only for a season. The hope of the Lord lasts forever.