Luke 3:5
Every valley shall be filled in, and every mountain and hill made low. The crooked ways shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth.
Sermons
Preparing the Way of the LordCanon Liddon.Luke 3:5
Road-MakersE. R. Conder, D. D.Luke 3:5
The Crooked Shall be Made StraightB. Keach.Luke 3:5
The King's HighwayProf. F. W. Macdonald, M. A.Luke 3:5
Valley and MountainB. Keach.Luke 3:5
The Ministry of the BaptistR.M. Edgar Luke 3:1-20
John Before Jesus; Repentance Before SalvationW. Clarkson Luke 3:3-6
We may view this subject -

I. HISTORICALLY. Jesus, as his name indicated, came to be a Savior; but he came to bring a very different salvation from that which was expected of him. His contemporaries were not aware that they themselves were in any need of salvation. They supposed it was their political condition which needed to undergo a change. They were full of a fatal self-sufficiency so far as their own character was concerned; they esteemed themselves the prime favorites of Heaven, and thought that, when the great Deliverer appeared, it would be entirely on their behalf, in order that they might be restored to their rightful place and assume the government they believed themselves so worthy to conduct. If they were to receive, with any cordiality of welcome, a Savior who came to save them, to deliver them from guilt, it was necessary that a voice should be heard speaking in plainest tones breaking through the hard crust of complacency and delusion, working conviction of guilt within the soul; it behoved that he should come "preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Thus did John "prepare the way" for Jesus - the apostle of repentance for the Savior of mankind.

II. EXPERIMENTALLY. That which was the historical order is also the order in our heart's experience. We repent of sin before we know the Savior so as to possess his full salvation. It is indeed true that the Words of Jesus Christ, the view of his holy life, the consideration of his dying love - that this is a power working, and working mightily, for repentance on the soul; yet must there be repentance, as an existing condition of mind, for a true and full appreciation of the great service Jesus Christ offers to render to us. We cannot rejoice in him as in our Divine Savior, redeeming us from the penalty and the curse of sin, until we have known and felt our own unworthiness and wrong-doing.

1. This is the scriptural doctrine. Our Lord, before he left his apostles, instructed them to preach "repentance and remission of sins in his:Name among all nations" (Luke 24:47). Peter said, "Repent... for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Paul testified to Jews and Greeks "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). John wrote, as he doubtless preached," If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves... if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteoushess" (1 John 1:8, 9).

2. This is the obvious spiritual order. For how can we make our appeal to Christ, how can we put our trust in him as in our Divine Redeemer and the Propitiation for our sins, until we have recognized in ourselves the sinners that we are? For this there is necessary;

(1) The idea of sin - in many hearts, in many places, found to be wholly wanting, and having to be planted there.

(2) The sense of sin - absent from a great many more; absent, it may be, because it is forgotten that our guiltiness before God is not only nor chiefly found in doing what he has forbidden, but in withholding what he has desired and required of us, in the non-payment of the "ten thousand talents" of reverence and gratitude and service we owe him.

(3) Shame for sin, and a strong and deep desire to be cleansed from its evil stain. This true penitence brings us in eagerness and hope to the feet and to the cross of the Divine Savior. - C.







Every valley shall be filled.
I. VALLEYS MUST DE LEVELLED UP.

1. Inattention.

2. Apathy.

3. Despondency.

II. EMINENCES MUST BE LEVELLED DOWN.

1. The mountain of pride must be reduced.

(1)The pride that will not make full confession of sin.

(2)The pride that will not receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child.

(3)The pride of reason that will not accept salvation until its mysteries are comprehended.

(4)The pride of worldly professors.

2. The mountain of presumption must be depressed.

(1)Sinners are presumptuous when, without forsaking their sins, they attempt to believe for salvation.

(2)Professors arc presumptuous when they expect the work of God to revive in the Church without exerting themselves to promote a revival.

(3)While we work as though everything depended upon working, we must trust as though everything depended upon trusting.

3. The hills of ingratitude must be brought low.

III. THE CROOKED PLACES MUST BE STRAIGHTENED.

1. Prejudice.

2. Jealousy.

3. Censoriousness.

4. Covetousness.

IV. THE ROUGH PLACES MUST BE SMOOTHED.

1. The ugly rock of Sabbath desecration must be removed.

2. That rut of drunkenness must be filled up.

3. Those sinks of immorality must be filled — lying, cheating, oppression, uncleanness.

4. The rough places of instability must be smoothed.

(Prof. F. W. Macdonald, M. A.)

Before John, the wilderness preacher, the mountains of Pharisaic pride were levelled, the valleys of Sadducean unbelief were filled up, the tortuous vices of the courtly Judean were corrected, and the rude ignorance of the Galilean smoothed and reformed.

(Canon Liddon.)

(To children.) In ancient times, especially in Eastern lands, when an emperor or king was travelling through his dominions, men were sent before them to prepare the way. Sometimes they had to make a new road through pathless wildernesses and rocky passes, hewing down trees, cutting a level way along steep or rugged hill-sides, clearing away rocks, and making embankments across valleys, and bridges over streams. Or sometimes the old road was overgrown with bushes and brambles, or washed away by floods, or covered with rubbish which the winter storms and swollen torrents had brought down from the mountains. In some Eastern lands, even at this day, travellers tell us how the roads are often so destroyed in the rainy season, that before a governor or high officer of state makes a journey, the highways must be mended and made ready for him to travel speedily and safely. So when the prophet Isaiah was speaking of the coming of the Lord Jesus, he foretold that some one would be sent by God to "prepare the way," &c. Look at the Gospels and you will see that the messenger whom God sent to prepare the way for His beloved Son was John the Baptist. Now, how did John prepare the way? There were four things which he taught the people, in order to make ready their hearts for the Lord Jesus.

I. TO EXPECT HIM.

II. TO FEEL THEIR NEED OF HIM TO SAVE THEM FROM THEIR SINS.

III. TO REPENT OF ALL SIN.

IV. TO HEARKEN TO HIM, AND BELIEVE, LOVE, AND OBEY HIM WHEN HE CAME. NOW, if the Lord Jesus were coming to the place where you live, would you not be glad if you were invited to help to prepare the way for Him? Would you not think it a great honour and happiness to take one stone out of His way? Oh yes! Your heart would dance for joy, and perhaps your feet too. Who would not like to be a pioneer for Jesus, the King of kings? Well, but don't you know that He really wishes to come; not to pass along the streets, but to come into the homes and hearts of all the people, not to pay a visit, but to dwell there? Then what hinders His coming? Only that people arc not ready for Him. Do you know what God calls a heart that does not love and fear Him? He calls it " a stony heart" (Ezekiel 36:26). Well then, if you do not love and trust and try to obey the Lord Jesus as your own Saviour and King, don't you see that there is one stone to be taken out of His way? How? Just by coming to Him in prayer to make you truly His.

(E. R. Conder, D. D.)

Every valley shall be filled; that the people might know what our Lord would do, to exalt the mercy of God to undone sinners, who, like valleys, lay very low under despondency of spirit; John bid them repent, which the law did not admit of. This word repent is a most sweet word, and tends to advance mercy and God's free grace, and so to fill up those valleys, I mean despairing and desponding sinners. When God sends a messenger to rebels, and commands them to repent and believe, a sweet pardon be sure is comprehended therein; and this tends to fill up or exalt two valleys.

1. The lowly and desponding soul.

2. The mercy of God is exalted, which was one grand design of God in sending His Son to satisfy Divine justice; for mercy and Divine goodness could not be raised to run level with justice, until our Saviour had made a complete satisfaction for our sins.

I. But before I proceed, let it be considered (as I conceive) that the grand obstructions or obstacles which lie in the way of God's being reconciled to sinners, and of sinners' reconciliation unto Him, are comprehended by these metaphorical expressions.

1. The haughty Jews and Pharisees, who were swelled with pride; yea, like lifted up high mountains and hills; how did the Pharisee glory, "God, I thank Thee I am not as other men, nor as this publican"?

2. They were like mountains, in respect had to their legal privileges, being God's covenant people, boasting "They had Abraham to their father, and never were in bondage" (John 8:33). John Baptist in his ministry strove to level these mountains, when he saw them coming to his baptism, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"

3. The Jews and Pharisees might be compared to mountains and hills, in that they boasted they had the key of knowledge, and were the only teachers and masters of Israel, and that all besides themselves were ignorant and foolish persons. Do but read what holy Paul speaketh of them, to bring them down level with the ground.

II. Sin (as Mr. Caryl notes, speaking of this very text) may be also meant by these mountains.

III. By mountains here also may be meant, or refer unto those great oppositions our Lord Jesus met withal, in His working out our salvation.

1. From men.

2. From the devil. These stood in His way like mighty mountains, like as Sanballet stood as a mountain in the way of Zerubbabel (a type of Christ): "And who art thou, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, thou shalt become a plain" (Zechariah 4:7).

IV. As valleys may refer to despairing sinners, so mountains and hills may refer to haughty and presumptuous sinners; I speak not here of self-righteous persons.

V. Valleys may refer to the low estate of mankind, or of God's elect, as considered dead in the first Adam, or as under the law and curse thereof.

(B. Keach.)

1. Crooked may refer to men's crooked opinions; they speak not right of God; they do not judge according to the straight and equal glory of all the perfections of God's holy nature; nor according to the straight rule of His holy law, but magnify the glory of His mercy, to the eclipsing the glory of His justice; and of this crooked opinion are the Socinians, and all that magnify the pardoning grace of God, without having respect to a plenary satisfaction, made to the justice and law of God by Jesus Christ.

2. Crooked things may refer to those false and crooked ways of worship which many walk in; ways which Christ never instituted or appointed: the Word of God is the only rule for worship, and administration of ordinances. Now all pretended ordinances and Divine worship, that doth not exactly agree with this rule, but vary in matter or manner from it, are crooked way.

3. Crooked may refer to the lives and conversations of men; the law of God (as it is in the hand of Jesus Christ) and the glorious gospel is the only rule of our lives; and all whose lives and conversations do not agree with that rule, are crooked ways.

4. Crooked may also refer unto men's crooked spirits; how cross and uneven are some men's hearts and spirits to the word and will of God. "The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).

(B. Keach.)

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