Prepare the Way for the Lord

       One of the most intriguing characters of the New Testament is John the Baptist.  He is the cousin of Jesus, himself the result of a miraculous birth to a couple in their old age.  He was unique: with a ministry out in the wilderness, wore rough clothes made of camel’s hair and ate a surprising diet of locusts and wild honey.  In the popular series, “The Chosen,” the apostle Peter refers to him as “creepy John.” He was different, that’s for sure.  But he was the one chosen by God to prepare the way for Jesus.  He did this in two ways. 
      First, John called people to repentance.  He calls people to acknowledge their sinfulness and turn back to God.  He, like all the prophets, calls us to a make a spiritual U turn.  When we look at our lives what sin do we see?  John called the proud to repent of their self-righteousness.   That challenge is still relevant.  But it doesn’t end there.  God calls each of us to admit our sins whether sexual immorality, dishonesty, racism, gossip or gluttony to name a few.  As we prepare for Christmas, the celebration of the arrival of Jesus, let’s cleanse our hearts of the spiritual filth that has built up in each of us, confess our sins and accept the cleansing that comes only through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 
      Second, John walked in humility.  Repentance and humility are closely intertwined. We can only honestly repent if we are humble enough to admit that we are not perfect.  Walking in humility is to accurately assess our place in the world.  God is God and we are not.  We are broken, sinful, rebellious people.  To stand in that assessment, to own and agree with it requires humility.  Life does not revolve around me, but around God.  It is fascinating to me that Jesus says of John that “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).  So John is truly great!  And yet when Jesus goes to John to be baptized, John is shocked and defers to Jesus and says you should baptize me.  Jesus makes it clear that he needs to be baptized by John to identify with us.  John humbly obeys.  Later when the crowds following John are shrinking and the crowds following Jesus are multiplying, some of John’s followers are concerned.  They come to John and point out his fading popularity and John is crystal clear that Jesus is the point, not John.  He says, “Jesus must become greater, and I must become less” (John 3:30).  As we head into Christmas amid the swirling cultural winds of materialism and entitlement, let us humbly turn from our sins and embrace Jesus, our needed and only Savior.  Like John, may our Christmas cry be “He must become greater, and we must become less.”
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church