The Ministry of Jesus (Matthew 4:12-23)

Jesus Calls His Disciples by He Qi

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
    the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
    Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (New International Version)

What is “ministry”? 

For some, ministry is only about the souls of people; it is seeing as many people respond to the message of salvation in Christ as possible. 

For others, ministry is meeting the tangible needs of people because there is such a breadth and depth of human social and physical problems. 

And, for others, ministry is defined in terms of what takes place within the four walls of a church building, led by pastors and church leaders.

“Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.”

Warren Wiersbe

Problems, however, arise whenever we:

  • Focus on one dimension of ministry. Because, in reality, ministry is multidimensional.
  • Fulfill the outward, administrative demands of ministry – without going after the relational heart of what ministry entails. 
  • Forget about whole groups of people who are different than us. Ministry is for everyone, not some.

We need to look at the ministry of Jesus – what he did and why he did it. Christ’s purpose is to be our purpose: Minister to the total life of all people.

Jesus Preaching

Before there were newspapers, CNN, and 24 hour news cycles, ancient people heard what was happening from heralds or preachers who loudly announced in the streets the important news of the day.

Jesus had a ministry to both Jew and Gentile. Although his ministry was chiefly directed toward his fellow Jews, Christ went out of his way to engage Gentiles, as well, with a message of repentance.

Repentance is turning the whole person – body, soul, mind, will, and emotions – from sin and disobedience to God in obedience to the message of Christ. It involves humility, sorrow for sin, and a commitment to following Jesus.

To repent doesn’t mean to manage sin or clean up parts of my life; it’s a radical conversion from an old way of life to a new way of life. Repentance is not simply adding Jesus to our schedule but is a complete change of how we live.

Christianity is a life, not just an event. Following Jesus is a journey, a life-long process of inner transformation; a complete forsaking of anything that does not please God; and a desire to reorient my life around what’s important to God. 

To illustrate this in a contemporary context, I ask, “What does it mean to follow the Green Bay Packers football team?” A fan not only watches all the games from start to finish, but cheers loudly for the Packers; talks about the Packers with everyone, even strangers; and doesn’t cheer for the Chicago Bears! Fans are committed to their team.

The difference, however, between football and Christianity, is that followers of a team are fans, whereas followers of Jesus are not fans in the stands or watching the television. Instead, Christ followers are on the field of play as teammates with Jesus.

So, when it comes to repentance, we turn from being fans of Jesus to followers of Jesus, doing what he did and saying what he said. We are active participants in the kingdom of God – embracing and embodying a message of repentance to new life in Christ.

Jesus Calling

Jesus calling the first disciples illustrates the kingdom message: a radical break with the old life. Each disciple walked away from a good life and embraced of a new life following Jesus.

Some understanding of Jewish culture in the time of Jesus is helpful here. Central to the life of any Jew was the Torah, the Law. Around age 6, Jewish boys would begin to go to the synagogue for schooling in the Torah by the local rabbi. 

This first level of education was called Beth Sefer (“House of the Book”) and would last until about age 10. In those four years, the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, were thoroughly memorized.

By age 10, some of the boys would distinguish themselves as good students and able to handle Torah. So, they would continue on in the second level of schooling called Beth Talmud (“House of Learning”). Those that did not continue with school would then learn the family trade and become an apprentice. Those that went on with school would then memorize the rest of the Old Testament.

At about age 14, only the best of the best were studying Torah. At the completion of their studies, they would apply to a well-known rabbi in order to become his disciple. The goal of this third level was to become just like the rabbi. This was called Beth Midrash (“House of Study”). The rabbi essentially interviews the teenager to find out if he has the stuff to become like the rabbi. 

If the rabbi believes the kid doesn’t have it in him, he tells him to go back to the family business. If, however, the rabbi grills the kid and finds he has what it takes, then he will say to him, “Come, follow me.” It was considered a great privilege and opportunity, and the teenager would leave everything to literally follow the rabbi everywhere he went.

Now, let’s return to Christ’s disciples. Jesus calls Andrew, Peter, James, and John. At the time, they were fishing because they were fishermen. That meant somewhere along the line they didn’t have what it took to further their education, or to follow a rabbi. 

Let’s, then, not miss the import and impact of Jesus saying to them, “Come, follow me!”  Jesus is expressing a belief that these men can become just like him. Well, of course you drop your nets and follow him! Jesus believes I can be like him! Jesus took a group of young men who couldn’t make the grade and used them to change human history. 

Jesus also says the same thing to you and me: I choose you. Come, follow me. 

Christ believed in us before we believed in him. Yes, Jesus believes you can do all the work of embodying the very words of God and becoming like him.

The attitude here is not, “Oh, geez, I have to go do ministry,” as if I were a teenager who was just asked to do the dishes. Rather, the attitude is of privilege and opportunity. If we fail to view ministry in this way, then we must come back to the message of repentance and have an attitude adjustment. People who follow Jesus do so because they get to, not because they have to.

Jesus Healing

            Envision yourself walking with Jesus and following him. You observe several things about his ministry of healing:

  • Jesus heals every problem. Christ has the power and authority to do so.
  • Jesus heals the whole person – not just the physical, or just the spiritual.
  • Jesus heals people whether they repent or not. Christ never made repentance a prerequisite for healing. He heals simply because he wants to.
  • Jesus heals to defeat the devil. Christ continually looks to reverse the hold that sin has on people.
  • Jesus chose to focus on healing the destitute, the poor, and the disadvantaged – rather than directing ministry to the higher classes and royalty to mediate his wishes to the people.

Who are the people – the least, the lonely, the lost – in need of healing in your family, neighborhood, and community?

  1. Those who are ill with various diseases
  2. Those suffering severe pain – of body, mind, emotion, and spirit
  3. The demon possessed or demonically influenced
  4. Prisoners and ex-convicts
  5. The working poor, and the elderly poor
  6. Those in the hospital with no one to visit them
  7. Those who grieve alone
  8. Those with addictions and behavioral issues
  9. Victims of verbal or physical abuse
  10. And many, many more….

Jesus had a ministry of both word and deed. To follow Christ is to become like him and pass on what we have learned to reliable people who will do the same.

Remember Your Baptism (Matthew 3:13-17)

John baptizing Jesus with the Holy Spirit’s affirmation

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (New International Version)

Baptism is important. Remembering is important. Put together, remembering our baptism is highly important. Here’s why….

Baptism is important to Jesus

Baptism is the distinguishing mark or symbol of being a Christian. 

The New Testament actually knows nothing of an unbaptized Christian. That’s because the practice is tied to our identity as believers. Our baptisms are based in the baptism of the Lord who, in his Great Commission, told us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit (who were all present at Christ’s baptism). 

The absence of baptism is like a bride without a wedding ring; a football player not wearing a uniform; a motorcycle gang without tattoos; or like an Iowa farmer without a Pioneer seed corn hat!

Baptism is the outward sign that we belong to God. It is the distinguishing symbol that we have been adopted by God and will receive all the promises of salvation in Christ.

Christ’s baptism fulfilled all righteousness through identification with repentant people

John the Baptist was understandably hesitant to baptize Jesus; he knew Jesus had no need of repentance. Although Jesus had no sin to confess, his baptism is a powerful symbol of his humility. It anticipates his ministry to people who recognize their need for God. 

It was necessary for Jesus to be baptized in order to communicate solidarity with people who are coming to God. “Righteousness” means having a right relationship with both God and other people. By being baptized, Jesus is proclaiming that a renewed and right relationship with God will become a reality through himself. Baptism is the sign that we belong to God and that our righteousness is tied to our union with Jesus.

It was important for Jesus to identify with sinners; it is important for us, as well. We remember our baptism – that we belong to God – by identifying with “sinners.” Here are 7 ways of doing it:

  1. Practicing hospitality (love of strangers)
  2. Using our spiritual gifts of speaking and serving on their behalf
  3. Getting to know people very different from ourselves
  4. Meeting people on their turf (not just ours)
  5. Showing respect and upholding dignity
  6. Asking thoughtful and caring questions
  7. Listening with focused attention

It isn’t what we “do” for people that’s as important as affirming our shared humanity with them; thus leading folks to the ultimate person who can address the needs of their heart:  Jesus.

Christ’s baptism fulfilled all righteousness through the affirmation of witnesses

Before Jesus began his ministry, it was necessary to receive validation of what he was about to teach and do. In ancient Judaism, one of the protections guaranteeing that Scripture would be taught according to the way of God, was through an ordination, of sorts. In order for a new rabbi to become a new rabbi, he needed the laying on of hands from two other rabbis who had authority to do so. 

That’s why Christ’s baptism is important. John the Baptist was a powerful teacher and prophet who was recognized by the people as such. John publicly said he wasn’t worthy to carry Jesus’s sandals, that Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. So, a baptism by John validated Jesus and inaugurated his ministry. 

Baptism of Christ by Dave Zelenka

A second voice – another witness from heaven – affirmed Jesus: “This is my Son, the one I love. I am very pleased with him.” And then, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, came upon Jesus. This further affirmed that Jesus would save people, not through arm-twisting and great shows of power, but through humility and gentleness.

Baptism was Christ’s first recorded act as an adult. In some ways, it was his first miracle – the miracle of humility in identifying with sinners.

Remember your baptism

Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s grace. Just as Christ’s baptism focused all the promises of God in salvation as being fulfilled in one person, so in our baptism we claim all the promises of God as found in Jesus. Water symbolizes new life, God identifying with us – Immanuel, God with us.

In baptism, God promises and seals to us our union with Jesus so that identity is not found in my past and my profession of faith, but in Christ’s past of bringing redemption to us.  Baptism does not so much express faith as call one to a life of faith and sets us apart as belonging to God.

Baptism is a visible declaration of an invisible reality: union with Christ. Just as circumcision was the outward visible sign of the old covenant, so baptism is the sign of the new covenant in Christ – available to both male and female – thus opening the way for women to participate fully in the ministry of the gospel.

In particular, infant baptism confirms that salvation is not initiated by us, but by God. It affirms that one is betrothed to God. As a child, then an adult, grows into the faith, it is our task to remember our baptism, to be reminded that God’s mark is upon us, that we belong to the Lord. 

God has set us apart to be a holy people, given to Jesus to live as he did. We must never forget that baptism is God’s identifying mark upon us; that our union and solidarity with Jesus is affirmed through this practice.

We are not solitary Christians; we belong Christ and to one another. Baptism is the initiation rite that takes a lifetime to complete. Therefore, we must struggle together in working out our salvation.

Because of our union with Jesus Christ, we must remember:

  • I do not belong to the world. So, I will not live selfishly, only seeking my own comfort agenda. Instead, I will give and serve others from a pure and humble heart.
  • I do not belong to sin. So, I will not give myself over to shameful words or actions, to bullying or manipulating people, to throwing fits and pity parties to get my way, nor using my tongue to speak gossip, slander, or suck-up to others. Instead, I will use my speech wisely, building up others through thoughtful and heartfelt encouragement.
  • I do not belong to the devil. So, I will not seek his agenda of lying, cheating, stealing, and being bitter. 

I belong to Jesus, so therefore:

  • I will uphold biblical justice by championing the cause of the fatherless and the widow, the poor and the needy, the least and the lost among us.
  • I will love others with all the grace God gives me.
  • I will forgive others because Christ has forgiven me.
  • I will consider others better than myself by embracing the humility of Christ.
  • I will hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  • I will seek peace and pursue it.
  • I will, give myself to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord – completely and thoroughly, unabashedly and unreservedly.
  • I will live into my baptism and remember it always because I belong to Jesus!

Repent! (Luke 3:1-18)

John the Baptist Preaching by Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956)

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
    every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
    the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them. (New International Version)

John the Baptist was the sort of guy that people either loved or hated. When I think of John, I picture a hippy driving a Volkswagen bus with bumper stickers plastered everywhere with sayings like, “Get Right or Get Left,” “Turn or Burn,” “Repent or Regret,” “Jesus Is Coming to Take Over,” “Here Comes the Judge,” “Armageddon Outta Here!” and “Axe Me What’s Next.”

He tended toward seeing things as black and white. John wasn’t much of a gray area sort of dude.

Yet, no matter what one things of John the Baptist, he was affirmed by Jesus as doing exactly what he was supposed to do: Prepare for the coming of the Lord. (Matthew 3:13-17, 11:1-19)

And the best way to prepare, as John pointed out, is to repent.

Repentance is one of those big biblical words that sometimes gets lost as being archaic and out of touch – sort of like a hippy John the Baptist. Yet, without repentance, nobody becomes a Christian and no one lives a fruitful life following Jesus. 

To “repent” simply means to change our minds – to stop doing one thing, and to start doing another. 

Orthodox icon of John the Baptist

Throughout Holy Scripture, repentance means to stop sinning and start worshiping God. “Sin” and “worship” are also words that don’t get used a lot and tend to get relegated as antiquated language.

To “sin” is to say and do things which harm others, or to fail to say and do things which are helpful. (Deuteronomy 15:9; Proverbs 10:19; Romans 14:23; James 4:17; 1 John 3:4, 5:17)

To “worship” means to bend the knee, to submit and honor a deity. (Psalm 95:6; Matthew 4:8-10; Revelation 4:10, 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, 19:10,

The prophet Isaiah saw a vision of God in the temple, a self-revealing of the One true God that caused him to be completely unraveled with repentance.

The Apostle Peter saw the Lord Jesus in his immensity and power through a miraculous catch of fish. He then fell at the Lord’s feet and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5:8) 

John the Apostle had a vision of Jesus Christ in all his glory and heard his voice. John fell at the Lord’s feet as though dead. (Revelation 1:12-17) 

Ezekiel the prophet had a vision of God and saw the appearance of God’s glory. Then, he fell facedown. (Ezekiel 1:25-28) 

Even Daniel, perhaps the most righteous person of all time, saw a vision of God in all his glory and fell prostrate with his face to the ground, totally overwhelmed with God’s holiness and human sinfulness. (Daniel 8:15-18)

Methinks there is so much sin in the world and so much indifference in the church because people are not seeing a vision of a glorious and holy God. Because if they did, they would be completely beside themselves and see sin’s terrible foulness and degradation; they would repent from all the ways in which they have been apathetic and complacent in living their lives.

John the Baptist by William Wolff, 1968

We must, therefore, put ourselves in a position to see and hear God so that we can turn from all the obstacles that prevent us from experiencing Father, Son, and Spirit. 

And those hindrances to experiencing God are legion, including: 

  • Passiveness toward God’s Word and God’s creation, thus causing a lack of mindfulness and attention to the Holy Spirit.
  • Preoccupations and daydreams that prevents availability to the words and ways of Jesus.
  • Poverty of sleep, healthy habits, and an overall poor well-being that dulls the spiritual senses and prevents awareness of God.
  • Paucity of spiritual practices and disciplines that would put us in a position to experience a vision of God.

We must repent of all the ways we do not pay attention to God. The Lord is coming but we don’t perceive it.

  1. What, then, must we do to put ourselves in a position to see and hear God?
  2. In what ways might we corporately foster a sense of the holy God? 
  3. How will repentance fit into both our personal and corporate worship? 
  4. Have we identified and named the things that grieve the heart of God so that we can repent of them? 
  5. What is one action step you will take in response to this blog post?

None of us need to be like John the Baptist in order to be godly. We don’t have to eat locusts and be black-and-white thinkers. But we do all have to repent of the ways we make the road difficult by placing obstacles in the way of experiencing Jesus.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Preparing the Way (John 1:19-28)

John the Baptist by Ivan Filichev, 1992

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (New International Version)

John was not the Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah. John’s life was devoted to preparing people and pointing them to Jesus. You and I are not the Messiah; Jesus is. You and I are to devote are lives to preparing people and pointing them to Jesus.

John the Baptist had a way of communicating that didn’t exactly win friends; but he sure influenced a lot of people. (Matthew 3:1-12) 

Considering that John lived in seclusion, dressed weird, and ate different food, it’s not a stretch to see how people might dismiss him as a kook and move on. Yet, there’s no evidence that people viewed John that way. 

Instead, John the Baptist had an effective ministry. I suggest that’s because John didn’t seek his own gain, wasn’t trying to build a big following, but understood that he was to point to the coming Christ. 

John believed judgment was imminent, so he put all his efforts into getting people to realize the wrath of God was real and coming soon.

The kingdom of God cannot be entered by forcefully pushing the door in; we enter God’s kingdom through the humility of confession and repentance. The way to the Nativity goes through John the Baptist and his message of “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.” (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)

We are, like John, to make a straight and level way for folks to come to Jesus. That’s going to require some change on our part. But if we’re stuck in our ways, that makes it really hard to make a level path to Jesus.

There’s all sorts of ways we get stuck. We might be mired in a destructive habit because we think we need it to keep going; we may get cemented into rehearsing all the past dumb decisions we made, and so, cannot move forward; or we might become fastened in an unhealthy relationship and see no way to move. 

If we are stuck long enough, we blandly accept this as a new normal, then go about our daily lives with a “meh” kind of attitude; not too low, not too high, but just “meh.”

All this sticky stuff – the patterns, behaviors, activities and habits which trap us – keep us in an immovable bondage. And we might become so used to “meh” that we are cut off from the source that would get us un-stuck.

The reason people didn’t dismiss John as some creepy clown is that he offered them something better than their sticky situations. 

Awareness of our real selves and our true condition brings hope – because God will not leave us stuck. The Lord will turn us into free people, delivered from the stickiness, to live fully for the coming King. God doesn’t give up on us, so we do not need to settle for a “meh” existence.

It can be scary, looking squarely at our sins, habits, memories, and emotions because they might keep us on the flypaper of death. We may feel overwhelmed and think there is hope for other people, but not me. Or, conversely, we might think that everyone else has a problem except me. 

Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Christ will shake things up. He’ll unstick people and free them from narrow thinking and a lack of self-awareness.

The season of Advent means that the time of the Lord’s coming is near. Therefore, preparation for the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas, is of primary importance. And the best way of preparing for Christmas Day is to repent and believe that the kingdom of God is near (as opposed to far away). 

God has come near to us in the person of Jesus; and that makes all the difference. 

It’s hard to admit we’re stuck. Yet, if many are honest, their relationship with God and/or the Church is nothing more than a shoulder shrugging “meh.”

There are two ways to deal with being stuck in guilt and shame: either justify it or confess it. 

Denying, minimizing, or excusing sin leads to separation from God – whereas confession leads to connecting with God. 

John the Baptist’s message is this: Get ready because Jesus is coming! Through the grace of repentance and faith there is hope – the hope of stopping all the petty games we play to hide our sin and hide the fact we are really super-glued to our idols. Our hope is in being cleansed from our impurities and ready for God to be with us in the person of Jesus.

God unsticks us so we can bear good fruit that is in keeping with repentance. Our lives need to be congruent between what we profess and how we live. Outward religious observance, although important, is not the way into the kingdom. And confession without genuine change is not repentance – it’s just confession. 

The God who came to his people in Jesus will one day unveil his kingdom in all its glory. We need to get ready for that day. There are roads that need straightening; fires that need to be lit in order to burn away the rubbish and brush in the path; dead trees that need to be cut down; there are people who need to repent because the kingdom of God is near.

We must clear the road so that Jesus has a way into our hearts. 

Just as law enforcement and the secret service are serious about making presidential motorcades free of obstacles and having a clear road to the destination, so we need to ensure that we are doing all we can to pave the way for Christ’s coming. 

This is no time for a spiritually milquetoast deadpan “meh” kind of life; this is the day to clear the way for Jesus. Now is the time to prepare for Christ’s coming. 

And the proper preparation for the Lord’s return is with admitting our stickiness and asking God to unstick us from the sin that so easily entraps us on the devil’s flypaper. 

The kingdom of God belongs to those who prepare the way and produce good fruit in keeping with repentance. 

Maranatha. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.