When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of Christ’s atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others. The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances, word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most part, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and we have it not because we ask it not; for we have his word that cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, his Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.
When eastern princes marched through desert countries, ways were prepared for them, and hinderances removed.
And may the Lord prepare our hearts by the teaching of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, that high and proud thoughts may be brought down, good desires planted, crooked and rugged tempers made straight and softened, and every hinderance removed, that we may be ready for his will on earth, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom. What are all that belongs to fallen man, or all that he does, but as the grass and the flower thereof! And what will all the titles and possessions of a dying sinner avail, when they leave him under condemnation! The word of the Lord can do that for us, which all flesh cannot. The glad tidings of the coming of Christ were to be sent forth to the ends of the earth. Satan is the strong man armed; but our Lord Jesus is stronger; and he shall proceed, and do all that he purposes.
Christ is the good Shepherd; he shows tender care for young converts, weak believers, and those of a sorrowful spirit. By his word he requires no more service, and by his providence he inflicts no more trouble, than he will strengthen them for. May we know our Shepherd’s voice, and follow him, proving ourselves his sheep.
If we are not holy, both in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his church will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will our devastation be if we do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance.
John the Baptist gave instructions to several sorts of persons.
Those that profess and promise repentance must show it by reformation, according to their places and conditions. The gospel requires mercy, not sacrifice, and its design is to engage us to do all the good we can and be just to all men. And the same principle which leads men to forego unjust gain leads to restoring what is gained by wrong. John tells the soldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against the temptations of their employments. These answers declared the present commitment of the inquirers and at once formed a test of their sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ’s salvation without true repentance, so the evidence and effects of this repentance are here marked out.
As to the order of time and entrance on his work, Christ came after John, but in every other way he was before him. The expression clearly shows that Jesus had existence before he appeared on earth as man. All fulness dwells in him, from which alone fallen sinners have, and shall receive, by faith, all that renders them wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. Our receiving’s by Christ are all summed up in this one word, grace; we have received “even grace,” a gift so great, so rich, so invaluable; the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us.
The law of God is holy, just, and good; and we should make the proper use of it. But we cannot derive from it pardon, righteousness, or strength. It teaches us to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, but it cannot supply the place of that doctrine. As no mercy comes from God to sinners but through Jesus Christ, no man can come to the Father but by him; no man can know God, except as he is made known in the only begotten and beloved Son.
Luke 14:13-14 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:  thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.