Prepare

Preparing a Path for the King of Kings

John the Baptist said, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”  Matthew 3:3

The weekend after Thanksgiving means one thing for our family: prepare the house for Christmas. Over the years, we have discovered that decorating the house and yard that weekend reduces the amount of stress we have the rest of the holiday season. We prepare early so that we can fully enjoy the festivities that follow.

In a similar way, we need to prepare our hearts for Christmas, or as John the Baptist said, “Prepare a way for the Lord.” The Greek word for “prepare,” hetoimazo, comes from an ancient mid-eastern custom. Before a king took a journey, servants were sent ahead to remove any obstacles that might jeopardize the king’s safety or his comfort. They leveled roads, removed stones, and scouted the area for robbers.

John the Baptist is quoting Isaiah when he exhorts his listeners to get ready for the Lord. Isaiah used the word, parah, for “prepare.” Under the Mosaic Law, if someone in a family became unclean through disease or illness, the whole house had to be thoroughly cleansed (Leviticus 14:36). Parah means “to clear away” or “to put a house in order.”

Both parah and heotimazo accurately describe my family’s Christmas preparations. We move furniture around to make room for the tree, clear out the clutter, and store unnecessary items in the basement.

I also need to clean my spiritual house—my heart. Paul gives instructions for heart scrubbing in Colossians 3.  He says, “strip off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds . . .[and] clothe yourself in humility, gentleness, and patience” (vv. 9,12).

After my spiritual makeover, I am ready to celebrate the coming of my King.  And with Isaiah I can rejoice because “the glory of the Lord is revealed, and all mankind will see it” (40:5).

DIG DEEPER:

Paul gives a lot of instructions about “cleaning house” in Colossians 3. What other tasks does he suggest we perform?

John the Baptist described his duties as the “path-preparer” in John 1:19-28 and John 3:22-30. What was his attitude?

What does John the Baptist say about Jesus’ identity in John 1:29-33? Why is he so sure about who Jesus is? Are you sure of Jesus’ identity? Read Jesus’ description of himself in John 5:19-27.

 Denise K. Loock

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