Prepare the Way

Today’s reading: Luke 1

In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel visited the priest Zechariah and told Zechariah that his wife will bear a son. The angel foretells of Zechariah’s son:

And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16-17)

Upon the birth of Zechariah’s son (John the Baptist), Zechariah reaffirms what he heard from the angel Gabriel in that John will prepare the way for the Lord:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, (Luke 1:76)

One question I had after reading the chapter was: Why was it necessary for John the Baptist to “prepare the way” for Jesus? Jesus, being the Son of God has all power, so he could have just called people to himself in many ways. What was different about John the Baptist from other prophets?

My primary understanding is that John’s mission is the fulfillment of prophecy and it was foretold hundreds of years prior through the prophet Malachi, that a messenger will come to prepare the way:

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

God had been using prophets for hundreds of years to send his messages of repentance, faith, and direction. They also told of a coming messiah. John’s special mission was to say he’s HERE. What an honor.

Translating this to my life I think about how we prepare for earthly events. If we know someone is coming to visit us from out of town, we typically clean our homes and put on a welcoming attitude. Sometimes we prepare for days; we prepare food, beverages, bedding, and plan events. We build our anticipation for what is to come and envision some of the conversation that we’ll have with our guests. We tell our neighbors and friends that this special someone is coming.

I believe this same preparation, as well as how John worked to prepare the people is how we should be preparing and anticipating the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to be preparing ourselves in our relationship with Him today so that when we do meet face to face, it will be with joy and not with fear. We need to be sharing his love and salvation story with neighbors, friends, and family so that they too may celebrate his glorious return. The prophets from old said he’s coming, John the Baptist said he’s here, and we say he’s coming again – and he is. Prepare the way.

Don’t just take my word for it, Jesus said it best in telling us to prepare for him:

Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:25-27)

Father God, thank you for your loving, perfect truth that we can find in the scriptures. Please show us how we should be preparing the way for your son Jesus. Show us how we we should prepare ourselves; give us courage and wisdom to spread your message of love, forgiveness, and salvation to others. Amen.