We know a thing or two about preparing don’t we? Maybe the idea of preparing resonates with you because you spent a lot of time preparing for an important presentation at the office. Or maybe you remember the huge exam in college that you spent hours preparing for. Or maybe it was your wedding. We all know that when something big is coming– something that’s really important to us, we take adequate time to prepare. In fact, we will likely even inconvenience ourselves for adequate preparation
The same can be said about Christmas, right? From the decorations, to buying gifts, sending the perfect Christmas card, the parties, going to the in-laws’, preparing the big meal, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes we get so caught up in preparing for what culture tells us the holiday is that we don’t have time, money, interest in preparing for celebrating the birth of the one who would come to repair the fractures in our hearts and the world because of sin.
In the life of John the Baptist, whose mission it was to prepare the way for the messiah, I see at least 3 ways we can prepare for this Christmas.
Mark 1:4-5 says, “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” His message was clear: recognize, repent, and confess. This should be a daily practice in the life of a follower of Jesus. If it’s not a habit for you, begin today. Pause and ask yourself, “What attitudes or actions do I need to repent of?”
Did you catch? In the verses we read earlier, John is preparing for the coming messiah by making it the mission of his life to share with everyone he came in contact with that Messiah can repair the fractures in your heart. Like John, God has placed you in the lives of people who desperately need to hear this good news.
What better way to prepare to celebrate Christmas than to be intentional to share your story of how Jesus has changed your life or healed your brokenness with someone in your life. When you do, like John, you are preparing the way for the messiah in their lives.
And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John used the phrase “mightier than I” which is a phrase of submission. Mark’s already told us that John’s focus was preparing for Jesus by preaching repentance. What he tells us now is that for John, it came at a cost. It cost him his own control, agenda, and independence. John’s gospel echoes these sentiments. He said “He must increase and I must decrease.” He said, everything I do in my life is about intentionally submitting to the Lordship of Jesus. Nothing is about me. It’s about Him. Is that true of you? What needs to fall under submission to Christ?
What difference would it make in the joy we experience this Christmas if we didn’t get caught in the hustle and bustle of preparing the way for decorations, family dinners, or Santa? What if instead, in the spirit of advent, we took the time to practice the spiritual disciplines of repentance, sharing, and submission?