The ESV and almost every translation I can find translates Mat 3:3: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
The Greek is pretty close (almost dead on) with the Isaiah 40:3 of the LXX (i.e., the Greek translation of the Old Testament): φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν (LXX)
What our modern Greek version of Matthew 3:3 does (which is reflected in the English translations) is to put in commas where there wouldn’t have been commas in the original Greek Matthew. And, the modern Greek version makes a capital Ἑ (epsilon) to give the impression that’s where the “quote” starts (Ἑτοιμάσατε, Prepare). This would not have been the case in the original as well. However, if we leave things as they are (or were, that is), the “quote” could have started (and probably was meant to be understood) at “In the wilderness,” which more accurately follows the Hebrew of Isaiah 43:3:
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Why is this important? Because this, i.e., “in the wilderness” (“in the desert”), is where God’s road is to be built.
The “desert” is the prophet’s way of referring to the chaos of the uncreated world of Genesis 1:1 and the condition of the land now inhabited by people (returned to "chaos" and darkness), a land lacking water, a dry place (spiritually and actual) where God must recreate. Jesus is introduced into a place, a desert (if you will), where he will recreate a people for his Father’s glory.
This is church. This is church planting. This is more intentional church planting in the hinterlands, as Sean Benesh wrote, in “the uncool places.”
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.”