Dec 15, 2019 • Written by Mindy Welhouse
Make Way for Christmas: Advent Week Two
I had a goal this year.
I was super ambitious and decided that since Thanksgiving fell so late, I wanted to have all Christmas shopping done before the big turkey day. That way, I would have the entire three and a half weeks to decorate, watch my share of Hallmark movies, and enjoy one of my favorite holidays with my family. For those of you that know me, yes, I admit that this is shocking as I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator. However, I've been recognizing the need for a bit more structure in my life and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to bring order to chaos and to make way for Christmas.
Did you know that God also made way for Christmas?
The Old Testament is full of prophecies predicting our Savior’s birth, life, and death. It is remarkable to look over the words of writers who penned God’s story centuries before it even occurred to document and celebrate the coming Savior. The book of Isaiah foretold of the virgin birth saying:
"Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
The virgin shall conceive and give birth to a Son,
and call him Immanuel."
And the prophet Micah showed us the location.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
Whose origins are from old,
From ancient times.”
From the beginning of time, even back to the book of Genesis, God was showing us His plan to bring a Savior into the world. He wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss it. God was making a way for Christmas.
Is it possible that we get entirely wrapped up in the planning, lists and budgets, busy Holiday parties, gifts for all of the teachers, perfection of decorations, beautiful Christmas lights, and actually miss the very thing that we were trying to make a way for?
Of course it is. And God knew that too. He knew that in order for the world to be ready for the Savior, He needed to prepare our hearts.
And so God sent a way-maker, John the Baptist, who’s mission was to make sure the world was ready for Jesus.
John, who’s divinely given name means “Jehovah is gracious", was part of God’s plan from the very beginning. His birth to his older parents was a miracle that took place after an angel met John’s father to share the good news that his wife Elizabeth would have a son. He would be filled with the Holy Spirit even in his mother’s womb and would turn many Israelites towards God.
The angel Gabriel quoted the final verses of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5-6) when making John’s birth announcement in Luke 1:17:
"he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the
hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the
wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
John was only 6 months older than Jesus, but when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. Even in the womb he was fulfilling his purpose and professing who Jesus was.
As John aged, his ministry was like nothing the people of Israel had seen before. The last of the old covenant prophets, John broke nearly 400 years of silence and was firmly planted in God’s promises of the New Testament.
He was called out into the desert, wore camel’s hair, and ate locust and honey. John was the one sent to make a path for the King.
But John did not prepare the way we would. He did not create an entourage of other royalty or a large party with fancy decorations to announce the Savior. He did not pull out the best dishes and make sure that everyone was invited. He spent no time worrying about the circumstances.
Instead, he encouraged people to look at the condition of their heart.
His ministry drew crowds from the nearby towns, he preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, and did not shy away from the truth.
He encouraged generosity bringing forth selflessness (Luke 3:11).
He promoted honesty and kindness that let love abound (Luke 3:14).
He proclaimed repentance that paved a way for redemption (Luke 3:3).
John was preparing the way of the Lord. He showed us exactly how to make way for Christmas.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every Mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And All flesh shall see it together;