68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 7 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—72to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Living in the Black Hills of South Dakota caused me to miss some of the seasons of the year I was used to experiencing. Those who live in that part of the country have reduced the usual four seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter to just two: Winter and Road Construction. It sure seemed that way as I watched roads get torn up and laid anew every 3 to 5 years.
Roads have to be laid on a solid foundation in order to be safe and to endure the rough treatment of the seasons and the weight of the vehicles that travel upon them. This means the surface must be prepared just right. The material of the road is useless without this time of preparation and, without it, will breakup and create potholes far too easily.
Our passage here is known as “Zechariah’s Song” and it is the word of prophesy from Zechariah’s lips in response to the question, “What then is this child going to be?” John the Baptist had just been born and his father’s muted lips were finally able to speak again. The child had just been named “John” – a surprise to all who had gathered for the occasion since this name did not appear in Zechariah’s family background. Of course, it was the name God had given for the cousin of Jesus and the one who would prepare the way for the ministry of the Messiah. John did indeed prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus and, when it was time for Jesus’ baptism, the honor fell to him as well.
Advent is a time for preparation as we get ready for the coming of Christ. We should see this in two lights: the light of Christmas and the light of Christ’s second coming. We must prepare the way for Christmas. Ready your heart for the glorious birth of our King by cultivating a giving spirit and forgiving heart. We must also prepare the way for Christ’s second coming. Ready your heart by committing to telling others about the first coming of Jesus. Christmas points backward as well as forward. It reminds us of God’s salvation offered through Christ and it reminds us of God’s desire to bring that salvation to its culmination.
As you pray today, consider the preparation Christ has done in your heart. He brought you the gift of salvation on that first Christmas, providing a solid foundation for all that He desires to do in your heart today. Christ has prepared the way in your heart for God to make you into the Christian He wants you to be. Consider the events of your life – good and bad – and how God has and will continue to use them to fashion the new creation that you are. Sometimes preparing the road for use is a hard process that requires digging and reforming the earth but the end result is smooth road that is meant to withstand everything the world has to throw its way. Ask God to do what it takes in your life to make your heart into what He wants it to be.