Summary: This is the 1st in a Lenten Series, and deals with ’preparation".
It was said that Martin Luther King never prepared, but always preached based on what the Holy Spirit gave him to say. One day upon walking in to a large Cathedral to preach for a crowd, he asked God what he was to preach on, the answer came "You should have prepared".
John Wooden once said “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail”. (unk)
I trust that Don Smith prepares by going over a checklist before each flight that he makes. I trust that Bob Baen doesn’t just enter a marathon race without preparing. I shutter to think what the Coyote Marching Band would sound like if they just showed up at competition without practicing. There are so many things in life that we spend our time preparing for. Right now the cast of Oklahoma is practicing five nights a week, but what if they didn’t prepare?
We spend a lot of time preparing for Christmas! In fact someone here this morning has probably already started buying or making gifts for next Christmas. We decorate; we send cards; we bake; we wrap presents; we put on pageants and programs; set up nativity scenes; have parties; take vacations; visit relatives… I wonder why we prepare so much for Christmas (for the birth), and prepare so little for Easter (the death and resurrection). Though we do some Ash Wednesday preparation, and some give up lent, or we do Lenten devotionals, do we really prepare?
The disciples were asked to “prepare” for the Passover meal. They ask “Where do you want us to prepare the meal?” And Jesus instructs them, and they go to “prepare”. Another translation for the Greek word “hetoimazo” (het-oy-mad-zo) (2090) is to “make ready”.
To make ready for the Passover meal. To make ready for the coming of Christ. John the Baptist declared “Make ready (prepare) the way of the Lord, make His paths straight” (Mat 3:3) Paul wrote to the Corinthians “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of that cup”. (1 Cor 11:28)
Preparation then involves “self-examination”. An examine of conscience; a time of prayer; repentance and forgiveness. There are always jokes about the second coming of Christ, such as the bumper sticker that read “Jesus is coming, look busy”. But we should be well prepared before He comes! It is not “manana”. Not something we can put off until tomorrow.
Dr. Len Sweet has a book entitled Carpe Manana. In other words, “Seize tomorrow” Seixe the day and prepare your life for the coming of the Son of man!
(1) “In April, 1988 a cameraman who was also a skydiver jumped from a plane along with several others & filmed them as they individually jumped out of the plane. After the final skydiver opened his chute something tragic happened. The cameraman, having completed his filming of the other skydivers, reached for his ripcord. It was then that he realized he had forgotten to put it on. Up until then, he was enjoying himself & was absorbed in what he was doing. But tragically, he was unprepared for the jump. It did not matter how many times he had done it before or what kind of skill he had. By forgetting the parachute he made a foolish mistake. Nothing could save him; his faith was in a parachute which he had foolishly forgotten to put on. And he plunged to his death because he was unprepared.” (“Unpreparedness, by Travis Johnson, CS.com)
In the Parable of ‘the ten Bridesmaids” (Mat 25:1-13) (Chapter before today’s text) remember only five came prepared, and five did not. They would later try to borrow oil from the others, but their lamps went out. The crux of this story is that the Groom, Jesus was coming, and half the church (half the brides) were unprepared! A Pastor named Travis Johnson asks “When the Groom comes, “Will you shout w/happiness, or shout w/hopelessness?” The way in which you answer that question will depend on your preparation.
Ill: Chuck Coulson tells story of “Pat & John”. (2) Pat was a Chaplin. John a patient. Dieing. Not eating. Doctor’s unable to diagnose. His skin now hung from his bones. His eyes were getting hollow. The weight dropping from his frame. Pat visited and finally asked, “Can I bring you communion”. “No, I can’t, I’ve sinned and can’t be forgiven”. But that is the whole purpose. Pat returned with communion. John took the bread, the first solid food in weeks. He chewed it slowly. He took the cup and swallowed. He had been set free.
He later walked from the Hospital. The nurses were amazed. One called the newspaper who covered the story. Interestingly enough, it was featured in the LIFE section.
Prepare your life, prepare the way, make His paths straight.