How Did Saint John the Baptist Prepare the Way of the Lord?

How Did Saint John the Baptist Prepare the Way of the Lord?

Written by Rachel Kell, a Catholic wife, mother of four, and blogger at

“…Prepare the way of the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3)

This was the 700-year-old prophecy that would be fulfilled by John the Baptist, whom the Angel Gabriel proclaimed would “be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a place fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1:15-17).

Why did God need John the Baptist to prepare a way for Jesus?

He didn’t.

WE did.

The word “prepare” or one of its forms is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible. God is clear in His command that we should be ready for Him; for His mission, His blessing, and His presence. It is easy to assume that amid the teaching, preaching, and miracles we would surely have recognized and followed Jesus. But God knows the blindness of our hearts. Pathways needed to be forged. Hearts needed to be humbled. Disobedience needed correction. Someone had to come and shake us from our slumber lest we miss the Messiah at our doorstep. John the Baptist was that wilderness voice pointing us toward Jesus.

He was the first one to recognize the presence of Jesus while still in his mother’s womb: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb’.” (Luke 1:41-42)

When he began his public ministry three decades later, it had the same solitary focus of pointing people toward the Lord. His message was one of repentance and renewal, and crowds gathered to be baptized in the Jordan River after confessing their sins. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear the threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 2:11-12)

John the Baptist wasn’t preaching a feel-good gospel. He was extending a Spirit-inspired truth: While sin was still dwelling in people’s lives, the Son could not fully make a home in their hearts.

And the Son did come, at the onset of his public ministry, to be baptized by John in the Jordan River. “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased’.” (Luke 3:21-22)

John continued to baptize and catechize until the time of his arrest and eventual death at the hand of King Herod. Because of his unwavering support of righteousness, John the Baptist spoke out against the King taking his brother’s wife, Herodius. While Herod himself was satisfied with an arrest and did not seek death for John, he was tricked by the daughter of Herodius and in order to fulfill a promise to her, had John beheaded. (Matthew 14:3-12)

John the Baptist was one lone voice crying out in the wilderness. But his voice was filled with the Holy Spirit. It was a voice that remained in quiet contemplation for 30 years to better prepare his own heart for what God was asking of him. It was a voice that refused to acquiesce before any royalty except that of the heavens.

It was a voice that still instructs us, through the living Word, to prepare the way of the Lord.

Saint John the Baptist is available as a charm selection for every piece in our Custom Saint Collection

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