Summary: “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight’” Matthew 3:3.
Theme: Prepare for the Lord
Text: Is. 11:1-10; Rom. 15:4-13; Matt. 3:1-12
Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Advent simply means the coming or manifestation of Christ. It is used to refer to the first coming of Christ, the birth of Christ, and to His second coming, His return. Before His birth, as was customary in Roman times, this important event was announced by John the Baptist. In spite of this and the fact that the promise of His birth was revealed long before it was fulfilled only a few took notice of Him. This should remind us that the same thing is possible concerning His second coming in spite of the many revelations we have received about this event. Advent therefore should be a time of preparation. At His first coming Christ came to meet mankind’s greatest need, the need for forgiveness. At His second coming He coming for those who have availed themselves of His forgiveness and received salvation. It is important that we spend this time as we celebrate the birth of Christ, to reflect on sin and the forgiveness of sin made possible by the shedding of the blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Christ was born that we might be saved and made ready to enter His Kingdom at His return. How are we preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ? Do we see His birth as necessary for our redemption and restoration or do we see it just as a time of celebration? The best way to prepare for the second coming of Christ is to see the great value of our salvation made possible by His first coming. Let us be sure of our salvation and share the good news with others and live as if Christ was coming again today.
There is the need to prepare for Advent, the first coming and the second coming of Christ. Christ came to earth as the Scriptures revealed and He has promised He will return and we can be certain that He will. We can be certain because many of the things that He said and promised have already been fulfilled. His death and resurrection, His ascension to heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit happened just the way He said they would. The fulfilment of these events confirms that all He said that had not yet been fulfilled would also be fulfilled. Christ has not only promised He will return but that there will be a separation of believers from unbelievers. When Jesus returns He will take believers to be with Him in heaven and as they receive rewards at the judgement seat of God and partake in the marriage feast of the Lamb, those left on earth will go through a time of tribulation. Christ wants to spare believer’s the sufferings of the tribulation ending in the great tribulation. Jesus Christ came that we might have salvation and this is still available to us in this age of grace. God always sends us a witness to prepare us since in our sinful condition we cannot do anything that is pleasing to Him. Just as in Exodus God sent an angel ahead of the Israelites to prepare the way to the Promised Land so He sent John to prepare the way for the promised Lord. And today He is sending believers, His disciples, to prepare the way for His return.
Are we ready to celebrate the birth of Christ and are we ready for His return? Unfortunately no one likes to do what is involved in the preparation especially in our time when we are used to having what we want instantly. We would rather be on a trip than making preparations for one and would rather be living in a house than making preparations to build one. Life requires preparation, and it is in the preparation that we will either win or lose. It has been said that all is well that begins well. The right preparation for the Lord is to know the Word of God, believe that Jesus Christ is God, have a personal relationship with Him, and above all be obedient to all He says. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus at His first coming. Just as then people who do not know Jesus need to be prepared to meet Him and this is the duty of every believer.
How do we prepare for Christ’s return and how can we be sure that we are ready? The only way to prepare and be ready for Christ’s return is to become a Christian and to live the Christian life. And the only way to become a Christian is to trust Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. We can only trust Him when we believe that it was because of our sinfulness that He had to shed His blood and that His shed blood has cleansed us from sin and imputed to us God’s own righteousness, a righteousness that had never known sin. God is merciful and longsuffering and does not want anyone to perish but that all should come to repentance. As believers we are to live the life of Christ. Our conduct should be a demonstration of the teachings of Christ giving meaning to life. We are the ones to correct misconceptions that might be hindering people from approaching Christ. Christ has saved us and blessed us to be a blessing. How will Christ find us when He returns? Will He find us faithfully waiting for Him and sharing the good news of eternal life made possible by the shedding of His eternal blood or will He find us busy with worldly concerns that keep us so occupied that we have no time to even think about His return.