Advent is here! It’s time to prayerfully prepare our hearts and get ready to celebrate the first advent of our Savior while we look forward to his return. It’s a season of prayer, examination, confession, celebration, joy and remembrance. There will be worship services, children’s plays, concerts, dinner and parties with family and friends this Christmas season.
John as we read yesterday is getting people ready for the coming of the Messiah. In tonight’s reading he will use poetry to do so. Poetry is a way to express our deep and intense human emotions. It’s one more reminder that we are made in the image of God. The Bible contains the most beautiful poems of worship, love and prophetic truth. It’s wisdom is renowned throughout the ages. John will quote a beautiful sonnet as a man in love with God and the people he is called to bear witness to.
“Get the road ready for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel! Every valley must be filled up, every hill and mountain leveled off. The winding roads must be made straight, and the rough paths made smooth. The whole human race will see God’s salvation!” (Luke 3:4–6, GN)
The imagery of creation being able to understand and prepare herself for the appearing of Christ is captivating! It’s as though, Isaiah was saying, “if creation could understand Christ is coming, she would get ready for his appearing!” The Holy Spirit uses the poetry to move us to prepare for Christ’s appearing.
He challenges his friends and countrymen, soldiers and tax collectors to get ready for Christ’s appearing. First of all humble themselves. Stop deceiving yourself that you are ready for the Messiah. They were living in deception personally and religiously. John says, “stop playing these religious games.” He want them to know that being Jewish is not what makes them right with God.
“When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! ” (Luke 3:7a, Message) John what’s up with the snakes? Really, you just quoted a beautiful prophetic poem!
John is calling upon people who trusted in their heritage to save them to humble themselves before God and one another. Humbling ourselves will lead to God’s presence and blessing in our lives. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:10, NLT)
He calls them to treat one another as they would be treated. How we treat one another reveals our heart for God. Read Paul’s prayer thoughtfully. “I pray that … Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:16–19, NLT)
To our ears John sounds harsh, but remember John loved his people, he welcomed all who came sincerely and Jesus spoke of John this way, “I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John.” (Luke 7:28, NLT)
He loved enough to remind them Get Ready. I’m making a list of what needs to be lifted up, let go, filled up, straightened up and leveled off in my life this Christmas. How about you?