“Rome rules. Corruption reigns, and we haven’t heard from God in 400 years. Now, this man who wears camel hair and eats wild locust and honey is roaming the desert telling us to be baptized like Gentiles converting to Judaism. Weird thing is, Jews are doing it. The world has gone mad!”
“As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” Luke 3:4-6 (Isaiah 40:3-5)
God sent John to prepare Israel to meet their Messiah. He called on them to repent of their sins and be baptized as a sign of spiritual cleansing and forgiveness, much as the Gentile converts were baptized in those days.
The last few days, I’ve scurried around to buy Christmas gifts, decorate the house and the tree, and begin planning for festivities.
I’ve also been reading the book of Isaiah. Repeatedly, God tells Israel to hear and listen, to see and observe, to awake and put on strength. Israel’s husband, their Maker is their Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel who has called them (Isaiah 54:5).There's a deeper way to prepare for Christmas – listening deeply, observing intently, and strengthening courageously. Click To Tweet
John the Baptist’s father heard from the Lord that although Elizabeth was barren, she would have the child who would prepare Israel for the Messiah. He doubted Gabriel’s message at first. It took an inability to speak to get his attention. Then, he was able to observe intently as Elizabeth’s womb grew. When it came time to name John, Zacharias had the courage to give him a name that did not follow tradition.
From the womb, John was filled with the Holy Spirit. He listened deeply when the Lord told him to prepare the way for Israel’s Messiah. I am sure that it took courage to proclaim a baptism of repentance for the Jews.
He observed Jesus intently as Jesus walked toward him to be baptized.
“Behold the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29John was prepared for the coming of Jesus. He had listened deeply. He had observed intently, and he had strengthened himself courageously. How are you preparing for Christmas? Click To Tweet
Maker of heaven and earth, Holy One, our Redeemer, empower us to deeply listen to Your words. Enable us to observe Your ways intently. Strengthen our courage to prepare for a deeper relationship with You this Christmas season. We look forward to listening, observing, and strengthening our walk with You as we prepare for what You will accomplish in, with, and through us. Praise God, our Messiah reigns! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please share how you are preparing your hearts and families for Christmas this year in the Comments Section below.
Advent Readings from BlueLetterBible.org
Daily Devotions by Anne Graham Lotz
Photo by Ian Dooley on Unsplash