Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
In the days before the internet, television and radio it was very hard to get yourself known across the country. This could be especially problematic if you were a politician hoping to win high office. In the latter half of the nineteenth century in England, it was necessary for politicians to travel hundreds of miles across the country and deliver speeches everywhere they went if they were to become well known. William Gladstone, one of the greatest Prime Ministers of the nineteenth century was particularly good at this. He became known as ‘the People’s William’ because of the rapport he built up with the British. Much of this was due to a guy called John Bright. He spent a great deal of time travelling the country in advance of Gladstone, speaking at public meetings and telling people just how great Gladstone was, and how he hoped that they would have the opportunity to meet him themselves one day. He was known as the “John the Baptist of Gladstonian Liberalism.”
Bright was given this nickname because his was a similar task to that of John the Baptist. John the Baptist travelled around Galilee telling people how great Jesus was, and how he hoped that one day they too would have the opportunity to meet him themselves one day.
Our current Mark Marathon article covers the death of John the Baptist, and yesterday’s Daily Reading considered the confusion over Jesus’ identity; was he John the Baptist? Or maybe he was Elijah?
The confusion between John the Baptist and Elijah is interesting, since they both performed similar functions. John the Baptist preceded Jesus, and prepared the way for him. Today’s verse is the voice of the angel who visited Zechariah, John’s father, before the birth of John. Zechariah is told that John will “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” In the same way, Malachi 3:23 tells us that God was sending Elijah to prepare for the day of the Lord comes, and to turn “the hearts of the fathers to their children.”
As we saw yesterday, Jesus was neither John the Baptist or Elijah; he was considerably greater than both. Both came to prepare people for the coming of the Lord, however, to ensure that they were ready. Are you ready for the coming of the Lord? Do you need to make any changes to your life to ensure that you are?