“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” (Mark 1:1-3)
We are coming close to being two weeks away from Christmas, and I am sure earnest preparations are underway. But also need to prepare ourselves – but not quite as much as the people of Jesus’ time needed to be prepared. These verses from Mark, though, are not about the preparation of the baby Jesus but of the adult Jesus who was on the cusp of beginning his ministry. John the Baptist was to prepare the people for the coming of the adult Christ. But John the Baptist also calls us to preparation, both for the baby Jesus and for the adult Jesus.
“John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark : 4 & 5)
It can be confusing, and maybe a little humbling, to confess our sins to a baby, even if the baby is divine. But the first needed action of confession to confess that we need the baby Jesus; and just maybe some innocence and wonder in our lives. We talk about seeing Christmas through a child’s eyes; that does not mean wishing and dreaming about a catalog of toys. It means seeing and appreciating simple things, innocent things, and giving thanks for them.
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1: 6-8)
John the Baptist must have cut quite a figure in those times – and would probably more so in our contemporary times. John made them, and can make us, stop and think. Something wondrous is coming; are we ready? We do not want to be caught unprepared for this wondrous thing. Just as we prepare for the coming of a baby, or the coming of an honored house guest, we need to prepare ourselves for Christ. During Advent the appearance of John means that our own internal and spiritual preparations need to be under way. May you be prepared, beloved reader. Selah!