With Christmas Day looming less than 24 hours away, the question before many of us is, “Are you ready?” Studies have indicated that a high percentage of men wait until Christmas Eve to finish their Christmas shopping. Certainly, there are the notorious few who make the rest of us look bad by having their shopping wrapped up sometime during the first week of December. But for many of us, getting that last gift is an exercise in hurried procrastination. Being prepared is a significant challenge.
Beyond being prepared for the event of Christmas Day, Scripture asks us to consider if we are prepared for Christ Himself. The Christmas narrative introduces us to John the Baptist (or John the Forerunner) whose ministry was intended to announce the coming of the Messiah, and to prepare the people’s hearts to receive Him. John’s life and message were a road sign pointing people to Christ, shouting out a message to us that we would be prepared for the Messiah’s coming. John essentially asks us the question, “Are you ready for Jesus?”
As John applied Isaiah’s prophecy to himself saying, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:3), he invites us to consider how we might be prepared in our own lives for Christ. How can you and I today have lives that are “straight ways” for Jesus? I believe there are a few realities that can demonstrate this preparedness in our lives today.
First, we must rightly recognize who Christ is, and who we are. John’s own experience points this out. The attention he was receiving made many wonder if he was the Messiah. When asked who he was, John adamantly confessed that he was not the Christ (John 1:20). His answer is clear because he knew who he was, and he knew who he was not. Preparing the way of the Lord in our lives starts with the confession that you and I are not our own saviors. Only Jesus is the Savior. Humbling ourselves is a way of preparation for the Lord.
Second, we prepare for the Lord by pointing others to Jesus. This is the entire way of life for John. He’s always deflecting, always pointing, always putting the spotlight on Jesus. That’s what John’s father Zechariah prophesied he would do:
“And you, child, will be called
a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare his ways,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76–77).
If today is the last day of preparation for Christmas Day, should it not also be a reminder for us to be prepared for Jesus in our hearts? Should we not take the time to realign our hearts to Jesus, our Savior, rather than ourselves? Should we not move to share Jesus with those who do not know Him, sharing the good news of salvation Jesus has won for us, to those who are burdened by the weight of this world and their own sin? You wouldn’t be ready for tomorrow if you didn’t have your gifts purchased today. Be sure you are prepared for Christ in your heart as well.
Written by Jeremy Writebol