Some of the images used in this passage are unfamiliar in our culture. How many of us have even heard of building a ceremonial highway for a king to come to us? We may have seen sheep, but how many of us have carried lambs in our arms?
The beauty and the truth of these words, however, speak to all generations. Just about everyone longs for comfort, for good news, for hope, and for forgiveness. This passage both reassures us that these may indeed be found, and directs us where to look.
The people who gathered to hear John the Baptist were familiar with the prophecies of Isaiah. They apparently also realized that knowing the prophecies wasn’t enough to make them ready for the Messiah’s coming. At John’s call to repent, many of them responded, confessing their sins and being baptized. Thus they made ready the way for the one who is the Way.