Luke shares with us in chapter 3 about a man who was prophesied about way back in the prophet Isaiah's time, roughly 700 years earlier. John the Baptist. This is what was prophesied about him:
"He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the LORD's coming! Clear the road for him!
The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level.
The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth.
And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.'" (Luke 3:4-6, Isaiah 40:3)
I've been intrigued by John the Baptist for a while and not just because he ate locusts and wore camels hair. No, it's because he has a miracle birth too just before Jesus and was called to pave the way for our Savior. One of the greatest missions ever, yet only a few chapters in the New Testament are devoted to him. You can read more about his greatness in my last post.
And since I personally believe John the Baptist's calling and mission was one of the greatest, I wanted to look deeper, and what better area to dive into then what was prophesied about him back in Isaiah's time. Hence the passage above.
The passage starts out sharing "a voice in the wilderness"; many know this part, as he literally lived in the wilderness and roughed it out there. Not the kind of lifestyle I'd live but you can almost understand it after you hear his calling. He was "preparing" people's hearts for the idea of salvation and forgiveness and trying to remove all obstacles in their life that kept them from God. He was "clearing the road for Him."
So what were these obstacles? The parable here tells us.
Valleys - Every valley shall be filled.
Mountains - Every mountain and hill should be brought low.
Curves - curves shall be made straight
Rough places - rough places shall be made smooth
Since this passage is a parable we know the obstacles aren't literally valleys and mountains, so what are they?
The Valleys - I read about two different meanings. One: John preached that salvation was for all flesh, Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles were any non-Jew. Jews were no longer going to be the favored nation and Gentiles should no longer be looked down upon. Jesus came to save all.
Two: Filling up the valleys represents what God was willing to do for the poor and sinners who were like valleys, low in despair. John was calling them to repentance and salvation through God's free grace to be brought out of the pit and placed among royalty as children of the one true King.
Mountains and Hills - I tend to think these mountains that need to be brought low are the Pharisees of the day. The Pharisees were prideful, priveledge, and felt themselves above everyone else, boasting about their knowledge and how they were the "only" teachers of the law. Pride is so often our mountain as well, but Jesus often teaches a life of servitude and humbleness are the way to him.
Another Mountain can be our mountain of guilt. We often feel unworthy of his free grace because of our sin. But John teaches us that salvation is for all, and that Christ was coming to defeat this sin and we only had to have faith.
Curves - I believe again these are the Pharisees. They were crooked in many ways especially with the interpretation of the Law. They were strict in some area, even taking it far beyond what was intended. For example, working on the Sabbath and not even being able to heal (Mark 3:1-6). Yet they were short on others, We can also apply this to our lives with the "rules" of worship. Let me tell you. There are no rules. We are saved by faith alone.
We are also thrown curves in life, the hardships, chaoticness, trials... It's these curves that Christ came for. He came to make every part of our life lie straight. Offering us a peace, a reason.
Rough places - these are obstacles that slow up our relationship to God. The Pharisees were guilty of placing many obstacles in the way of man to God. Character can do that as well. Do our words, manners, or actions hinder others from reaching out to grab hold of the Savior? Sometimes as Christians we focus too much on the don'ts of life, what if, we as Christians, focused more on the dos?
I love this parable that was prophesied many years before. For many reason, it connects the Old and New Testament, shows more proof on the validity of the Bible, reveals to us the purpose of Jesus Christ - the salvation found only in Christ and reveals the glory of God.
I encourage you to dive deep into this passage as well as these are my thoughts. There are great teachings behind the parables in the Bible. I believe when just glanced at they can be confusing, but are meant to entice us to find the deeper teaching and meaning. And when you do, oh the truth, hope, and revelation of his power and grace that are brought forth.
resources: All The Parables of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer