Preparing the Way


Luke 3:3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”


John the Baptist came preaching and proclaiming repentance to the people. He didn’t have the power to remit, or to forgive peoples’ sins, but he was preparing the way by a call to turn from their sins. This call was a fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah. It was time for the voice in the wilderness to call the people back to faith. In this way John was helping to make the paths straight, removing the barriers that existed so that the people could clearly see the Messiah when he arrived. 


Just like John, we are called to be participants in the work of preparation. Origen reminds us that this message reaches to the “desert of the soul that has known no peace.” (HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 21.3) We find ourselves surrounded by those who may be be experiencing a time of spiritual dryness, needing their souls quenched by the presence of Christ. This isn’t just a message about the work of John, but it’s a call for all of us to become burning lights in a dark world, calling for repentance and forgiveness of sins. As we carry that light we are simply preparing the way for the true light that will follow. Our preparation means that eventually Christ’s light will increase, and we will decrease. 

This preparation includes smoothing out and removing all obstacles to the gospel. Chrysostom says:

“Thus, when he says, ‘Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the rough ways shall be made smooth,’ he is signifying the exaltation of the lowly, the humiliation of the self-willed, the hardness of the law changed into easiness of faith. For it is no longer toils and labors, says he, but grace and forgiveness of sins, affording the way to salvation. Next he states the cause of these things, saying, ‘All flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ No longer Jews and proselytes only, but also all earth and sea and the whole race of people may be saved. By ‘the crooked things’ he signified our whole corrupt life, publicans, harlots, robbers and magicians, as many as having been perverted before, afterward walk in the right way. As Jesus himself likewise said, ‘Tax collectors and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you,’ because they believed.” (HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 10.3.)

This advent season is a call for us all to carry the light into new spaces, preparing the way for the coming Messiah. We are to reach out to people who live on the margins and invite them into the center of the conversation, proclaiming the need for repentance and the forgiveness of sin. In this way we actively participate in the advent of Christ. Consider how we may intentionally prepare the way today, and every day of this season. 


Lord, please use me to help prepare the way for you. Amen. 


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