A voice cries, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together . . .” – Isaiah 40:3-5
Jesus’ birth is not the only miraculous one we read about in the Christmas story. Mary was not the only mother-to-be who received an angelic declaration of her pregnancy. Elizabeth and Zechariah also were told of a miracle baby who would come. Though they had probably long ago given up hope of ever having a child, Elizabeth would become pregnant and give birth to a son. His name would be John, and he would be a great prophet, preparing the people of God for the Lord’s coming.
John’s role was to prepare the way of the Lord and make way for His coming. His job was that of a forerunner, announcing Christ’s coming. He came as a witness, and would eventually step aside so that the spotlight of attention shifted to Jesus. “I must decrease, He must increase,” he would say (John 4:30). What a humble calling—to prepare the way for the Kingdom but to never see it come to fruition.
What does it mean to prepare the way of the Lord?
When I prepare for any guests’ coming, the routine is much the same. I have thought ahead and planned a meal and spent the afternoon cooking. I have cleaned the house, wiping away the dirt and grime. And as the time of their expected arrival draws closer, I check my phone and peek out the window, watching for a sign of a parking car. We’re ready when the knock comes at the door, with a cozy home and a spread of food, to give them welcome. All of our preparations serve to prepare the way for them, so that when they arrive, our home is a welcoming environment that they can step into with ease.
Preparing the way for the Lord’s coming is not so different. The point is the same—to create a welcoming environment in people’s lives so that He can easily enter in and do His work.
The role of the Christian is akin to that of John the Baptist—bearing witness to Christ’s coming and preparing the way for Him to enter the hearts of us all.
For those who do not know Christ, we as Christians can make way for His coming into their lives. We can offer a loving presence and a lived out presentation of the Gospel. Our voices could be the ones declaring the good news of his Kingdom, using our lives to turn the spotlight onto Jesus’ Presence.
For those of us who do know Christ, we must continue to make room for His work in our lives. John’s message brings us to the need for self-examination and repentance of ways sin still rules in our lives. We can carve places out of the busyness and the schedules to pay attention to His work. We can prepare Him room to work, as we humbly respond to the work He is doing in each of our hearts.
Joy to the world—the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.