Preparing the Way: Hearts Ready for the Coming King

“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”” (Mark 1:1–8, NIV)     

John the Baptist’s call to “Prepare the way” rings through the centuries to reach us today. But how do we do this? How do we “prepare the way?” We can start by looking at our values, priorities, and relationships. Are there crooked places in our lives that need straightening? Are there rough patches that need smoothing? Are there hurts and anger that we need to let go of? Are there sins that we need to turn away from and leave behind us? This season of Advent is a time to take stock is a time to realign our priorities. It is a time to confess and receive forgiveness. It is a time to embrace John’s humility and Jesus’ power and allow God’s spirit to work within us, transforming us more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, we are invited to enter into this process of repentance. And it is a process! We talked before about the fact that sin is fun. It is enjoyable. Turning away from it is hard; quite often, it is a one-step forward, two-step back situation. But the first step is to examine our lives, to identify areas where we have wandered from the path that God has set for us, and to take tangible steps toward returning to that path and returning to God. It is not enough to merely smooth out the rough edges; we must make our paths straight, creating direct, unobstructed ways for the Lord to enter our hearts and lives. We have talked before about during Isaiah’s day when he wrote the words to make straight the paths; they would send people to clear the roads of any rocks and detours in the road because the king was coming, and they did not want him hindered by obstacles. Our obstacles are our sins. They get in the way of us and Jesus. We must look at our lives and begin working on turning away from the sins that are coming in between us and Jesus.

This Advent, put thoughts of the secular side of of the holiday out of your mind and think about the Jesus we are waiting for. The Jesus who will come again. The Jesus who, when he returns, will not be a helpless little baby in a manger. The baby has grown up into our Savior; he has grown up into God who will absolutely judge all of our deeds.

MSAC Bible Challenge

Sunday: Ephesians 4-6, Monday: Philippians 1-4, Tuesday: Colossians 1-4,
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 1-5, Thursday: 2 Thessalonians 1-3, Friday: 1 Timothy 1-6,
Saturday: 2 Timothy 1-4, Sunday: Titus 1-3, Philemon 1