Prepare A Highway For Our God
Isaiah 40:3-4 and John 1:23 - 4th (last) Sunday in Advent - Dec 20, 2015

Dear Believers in Christ, Baptized of God. In a lineup, who would have chosen John the Baptist, to be the greatest prophet of all? He doesn’t exactly look great. He doesn't wear fine clothing. He doesn't eat fine food. If people saw him on the street today they would say he looks like a bum. He probably didn’t smell like roses either. He's living out in the wilderness, wearing camel’s hair, and eating grasshoppers, and wild honey. He’s preaching in the wilderness. He’s not going after those creature comforts that most of us enjoy. Nothing wrong with enjoying those comforts, which are gifts from God, but that’s just not the life that John lived. That wasn’t his lifestyle.

And who of us would choose that lifestyle? Who would choose that path of roughing it in the wilderness, and preaching a message most don’t want to hear? But this all comes back to the point that this was chosen for John long before John was ever born. He was chosen to be the forerunner, the preparer of Christ. This is the one crying in the wilderness, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Nothing was to interfere with that path chosen for John. That's why his lifestyle was so different and humble. No earthly treasures, no earthly thing, was to distract him from being that voice. The voice that prepares hearts for Christ. So as we prepare once again for Christmas, may this voice be in our hearts, and continue to affect real change in us.

“Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t come to God, He comes to us. Jesus already came to us when He was born into the world. He already came to this earth to live for us, to die for us on the cross, and to rise again for us, to make satisfaction for all our sins. So He already came to make perfect peace between God and man. He already came to accomplish our salvation. God has already come to us.

But in order to come into our hearts, the way must be prepared. “Prepare ye the way of the LORD.” That means we must repent of our sin, not just for having committed sins here and there, but also for being sinners. “Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

So John says, “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” It’s not an earthly highway that needs renovation. It’s not earthly terrain that needs landscaping, but rather, the terrain of our sinful hearts. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”

Imagine trying to prepare a highway in the wilderness. Imagine just throwing cement on top of the trees and calling it good. Imagine throwing cement on top of a mountain and calling it good. Imagine throwing cement over a raging river and calling it good. It just doesn’t work that way. The obstacles must be removed in order to make a smooth highway.

John is saying, there are obstacles that must be removed from our hearts. A mountain of pride doesn’t leave much room for the Savior to come into our hearts. The Pharisee in the temple said, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are.” He was so busy boasting about how great he was, that there wasn’t room for Christ in his heart. Jesus “came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

So “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” And Jesus says, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Sin itself does not prevent us from entering heaven. David committed adultery and murder, yet he was still accepted into heaven. By the Grace of God, he repented of his sin. He believed in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sin. So no matter how great our sins have been, not everything is lost. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. There is still hope even for the greatest of sinners.

But “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” And “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Yet, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”

So as we prepare for Christmas again, let us prepare not only with Christmas trees, and Christmas lights, and Christmas decorations, and Christmas gifts, but most of all, let us prepare for Christ to once again enter our hearts.

“Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

It must seem so strange to the world that, only days away from Christmas, instead of Santa Claus, we’re talking about John the Baptist, and his message of repentance, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”. Instead of the baby Jesus, we’re talking about the all grown up Jesus, to which John points, and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The one sacrifice for the sin of the whole world.

But isn’t this exactly when we need advent the most? When everyone seems to be dreaming of earthly wealth and presents? When people are even willing to injure others to get first dibs on the best deals. Maybe not in that specific way, but we find that our hearts too, are all too willing to go along with the ways of the world. And so here comes John, “Prepare ye the way of the LORD.”

Our hearts must be ready. This world is not forever. Christ will come again. So he says, “make straight in the desert a highway for our God. ”

It’s not an easy truth to face, but we all need need to change. We all need to cast out whatever offends our holy God. We all need to alter our behavior on a daily basis. Yet one standeth among you: The very Lamb of God. He takes away the sin of the world.

To know Him, is to know all that we need to be saved. Many want to claim that we haven’t gotten there yet. We have to do certain special works, or, we need to go to purgatory to have our sins taken away there. But no, Jesus is the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. To know Him, is to know the way, and to be ready for Him to come again.

So may we continue to heed the message of John the Baptist, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. The highway in our hearts is made ready by turning from our sins, and by believing in Jesus for the forgivness of our sins.

We prepare, that Christ may once again, come and enter our heart, and be born in us once again this Christmas. May we have a very Merry Christmas, by knowing Christ, and continuing to know Him. For He is the very Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. And “whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” - Isaiah 40:3

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