“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)
We have already seen that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of this prophecy found in Isaiah 40. There are some details given about the content of his messages but I think a look back at the prophecy will give us a more clear understanding of the overall character of the preaching of John.
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2)
First of all, the preaching of John brought comfort to the children of God who heard him. He preached that they should rejoice in the grace and mercy of God because that is what God gave them to take away their sins!
I believe that any message that is used to scare the children of God into obedience is not the true gospel message. John is going to instruct in righteous living (see Luke 3:7-14), but he is doing this in contrast to the self-centered focus of the religion of the Pharisees. John is teaching to love others just like Jesus will teach!
Secondly, I do not believe that John taught a “feel good” motivational message like what is so widely accepted today.
“The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.” (Isaiah 40:6-7)
John taught the doctrines of grace beginning with the total depravity of man just Primitive Baptists do today!
But you may ask, “How can telling someone how worthless they are be a message of comfort to them?”
The key is grace.
When we see ourselves as we truly are, we see the need for a sovereign Savior. When we see that we are helpless without Him, we take great comfort in learning that Jesus did it all for us by the GRACE of God.