“A voice of one calling, “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3, NIV)
Hundreds of years before Christ’s birth, Isaiah prophesied a coming Messiah. These prophecies were handed down through the ages, passed down with deep longing and expectant hope. Then, after generations of waiting, the prophecies were fulfilled: John the Baptist testified that he is the messenger—the voice in the wilderness making way for Christ.
In the Gospels, Isaiah’s prophecy accompanies John the Baptist’s announcement of the one who would come next. The apostle Mark makes it central to the story; his gospel opens with:
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. (Mark 1:1-3, NIV)
While Isaiah and prophets wrote about the first coming of Christ, the command to “prepare the way of the Lord” rings just as true as we anticipate the second. As we enter the Advent season, we celebrate God’s promises that are fulfilled through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We also know that God’s story is not over yet—and we get to be a part of it unfolding. Even as we are intimately acquainted with suffering, violence, and anguish, we can trust and participate in the renewal of this world.
As we anticipate Christ’s return, how do we, like John the Baptist, prepare the way for the coming of the Lord? Amidst conflicts in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Iran; as climate disaster, war, and political strife force people from their homes; while children experience hunger—what does it look like to make paths in the desert for Christ?
Luke’s account of John the Baptist in Luke 3:10-20 provides further insight. When John rebuked the crowd for their sins and called them to repentance, the crowd asked, “What shall we do?” John’s response provides a taste of what Jesus later came to say: help the poor, feed the hungry. Be honest and fair. Treat people with dignity and respect. Speak out against abuse of power.
Advent is inherently a season of preparation; we prepare to celebrate Christ’s first coming and prepare to welcome the second. We prepare our hearts for the day when “every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low” (Isaiah 40:4). Join us over the next few weeks as our writers explore what it means to “prepare the way for the Lord.”
World Renew, Resonate Global Mission, and CRCNA Social Justice are providing a devotional series for Advent 2022 called Prepare the Way for the Lord. The devotions will be delivered to your email every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during Advent.
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