The Advance Man
Marvel Super Hero movies have produced some blockbuster hits, but Black Panther might be the biggest yet. On opening day in the United States, it earned 75.8 million. Worldwide, the movie had earned 404 million. We all know this doesn’t happen by accident.
Disney spent millions in promotion. Having the right advance team and the right strategy is critical if your goal is to produce a blockbuster hit, but what if your goal is to introduce not a comic book superhero, but the most influential, powerful person ever to step on the planet?
Mark, the second Gospel in the New Testament, shows us how it’s done. He begins with a promo written by a Jewish prophet hundreds of years before Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, showed up in Judea.
“Just as it stands written in Isaiah, the prophet, ‘Look—I will send my messenger before your face. He will prepare your way. A voice crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the LORD. Make his paths straight.’” Mark 1:2-3, Malachi 3:1, Isaiah 40:3
In the flow of Isaiah’s account, Hezekiah, the King of Judah, was delivered from the Assyrians—the ones who crushed the Northern Kingdom as described in the Book of Hosea. After this deliverance, he foolishly shows some Babylonian officials visiting Jerusalem his treasures of silver, gold, and precious olive oil. Isaiah confronted him and said his descendants would be taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Then abruptly as Isaiah 40 begins, Israel is in this captivity with its hopelessness and despair, but Isaiah announces that the Lord will comfort his people. He will do more. He will send his advance man, and when things are ready, then he, himself, will show up and reveal his glory.
Who is this advance man? Did the Lord, himself, actually show up? Why is this so much better than a fictitious Marvel Super Hero movie?
LORD, like the Jews in exile in Babylon, sometimes life sucks away all the joy. Hope evaporates. Help me allow you to comfort me when I feel personally exiled, and always remember that Jesus, your Son, did show up and he will comfort.
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