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Read Matthew 3:1–12

‘In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”’ (vv1–2)

The third chapter of Matthew’s Gospel starts by telling us about the role of John the Baptist, a preacher calling everyone to ‘repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near’ (v2).

Although many of the people John was preaching to were religious people, they had not seen the significance of Jesus, nor the significance of turning around from their current ways, to follow Him (vv7–10).

John’s message was clear, taken from the Old Testament book of Isaiah (Isa. 40:3), the people were to, ‘make straight paths for [Jesus]’ (v3b). The problem is that religion can often get in the way of truly seeing who Jesus is.

Perhaps at this time of year, we traditionally go to church, or perhaps we are regular churchgoers. Whilst it is important to gather with God’s people, if it is a means in itself, such religious activity can take our focus away from the One we are called to follow – King Jesus.

Or perhaps there are other distractions in our lives that take our time and attention, and before we know it, another year has passed, another carol service has been attended.

Our call today is the same as it was for John the Baptist’s listeners, to ‘make straight paths’ for Jesus, to be intentional in our following, to seek His will and ways for our lives each day.

Perhaps 2023 is the year that we ‘make straight paths’ that we might be used for His glory and Kingdom purposes.

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord Jesus, help me to heed the call to follow You and to identify those things that take me away from following You each day. Amen.’
AN ACTION TO TAKE: What things might be distracting us from following Jesus wholeheartedly?
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Josh. 1:1–9; Prov. 4:20–27; Phil. 3:7–14; Heb. 12:1–2
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.