“…A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him…And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’”Luke 3:4, 6
My friend Brian came with me to experience a prison worship service. After a time of singing, teaching, and testimonies, the service concluded with the familiar hymn, Amazing Grace. During the last verse I glanced to the back of the room and saw Brian, hands stretched out, overcome with emotion. Later he shared how even though he had attended church his entire life, that afternoon worship time with the inmates revealed the awful weight of his sin. For the first time he was gripped by the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
God sent John the Baptist to a people steeped in religious teachings and traditions for most of their lives. John’s message was a call for them to turn from their sins and heartless rituals to make room for the coming mighty work of God’s grace.
God’s work in their hearts was pictured by Baptism. Multitudes were moved to repentance and humbly acknowledged their sin. They went under the flowing Jordan River and surfaced with hearts ready to experience the Father’s amazing grace, the same grace you and I know today.
Final words of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace: “My memory is nearly gone. But I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior!” (1807)