This week’s theme is preparing the way for the king. The text in Isaiah 40 speaks to preparing a highway in the wilderness by filling in valleys and tearing down mountains, all to make a broad, level road for the king. Our anticipation and confident hope are expressed during our waiting by preparation; by our getting ready for his coming. We’ve all anticipated some event, whether it was hosting a large or special dinner, having a baby, graduating from school, or any number of other special times.. As we anticipated—in fact prompted by that anticipation, we took special care to get everything prepared, everything just right.
And so with this second week of Advent we consider preparing for the coming of Messiah. There are a number of parables that speak to making ready. One of the most famous is the ten virgins and their oil lamps. Five of them had made proper arrangements ahead of time, but the second five had not, and they missed the coming of the bride groom.
What is the proper preparation for such a special event? An important ingredient must be humility. All of our preparations are in service of something or someone. Then there is the key element in John’s preaching—repentance. Owning our own faults, acknowledging them as incompatible with the character of a God follower, and making an intentional, no turning back decision to thrust from ourselves the attitudes, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that separate us from God and from other people.
This second week of Advent calls us to real repentance in preparation for the coming of our king. Are you ready?
This week read more slowly John the Baptist’s message in Luke 3:1-9. Notice the preparations he encourages—the filling in of valleys and the reduction of mountains—as preparations for the coming of God. Read closely his charge to those he calls vipers—to show evidence of repentance before coming to him for baptism.
Preparing the way of the Lord is about preparing for God to enter our lives and live with us. God won’t force himself into our hearts and minds, but will readily come to those who have adequately prepared for his arrival.
Repentance is no easy endeavor. It isn’t quite as simple as admitting “Yeah, I need to quit doing that; I’ll try to do better.” Repentance speaks not just to outward behavior, but to interior shifts that change the way we think.
What do you think John means by filling in valleys and reducing mountains? What are some of the valleys and mountains in your life that need leveling?
How does John’s call for behavior change before baptism suggest about preparation for it?
If John were to challenge you to show evidence of repentance, what would you have to change to meet his challenge?
This week’s prayer: God I invite you into my life and I willingly give my will to you. Take me, shape and mold me into your image. Help me to see others as you see them. Help me to see me as I really am. Teach me to reject selfishness and hardness. I rely on your forgiveness and your steadfast love to live. Thank you, amen.