Summary: Today's message looks at and answers the question that as we are preparing for Christmas, are we preparing for Jesus.
Preparing for Christmas
In our message today, I’d like to address my ending statement from last week’s message on how Satan is trying to steal Christmas.
I said that “as we enter into this Christmas season, let’s prepare our hearts the right way so that the true joy of Christmas can fill our hearts and lives.”
With Christmas right around the corner and despite the current pandemic, which threatens to cancel it, Christmas is already in full swing with decorations going up, TV specials being turned on, and sales starting to pick up. But, there is a question that has to be asked, and that is, “As we are preparing for Christmas, are we preparing for Jesus?”
Because that is what Christmas is really all about, that is, Jesus, the Son of God, coming to this earth. Christmas isn’t about giving or receiving presents; rather Christmas is supposed to be a time of remembering Father God’s gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, and celebrating His coming to seek and save the lost. And so as we prepare for Christmas, we should ultimately be preparing for Jesus and for His return.
The reality is that everything we do during this time of Christmas, we do in sort of a haze, where everything gets jumbled up in our heads as we look ahead to what must be done and what we have left to accomplish, like the meal we have to cook, the gatherings we have to attend, and the people we have to buy gifts for.
And our minds become a jumbled mess, that is, until we look in the rearview mirror and see the police car pulling up behind us. Immediately the fog clears, and every part of our bodies moves to def-com 1. Our hearts begin to pound, and our adrenaline begins to flow, our eyes become riveted to the speedometer and the road ahead, all the while glancing in the rearview mirror to see if the police car’s lights have come on, because we realize that we’re going a little bit too fast.
What we might say is that our attention has been captured. And that’s exactly what God wants to do with us this Christmas season. He want’s to capture our attention and get our minds, hearts, and spirits back on what is the most important thing. He wants to get our minds out of the fog and onto what Christmas is all about, and that is Jesus’s coming, ministry, and mission.
He wants to prepare us for more than just Christmas; He want’s us to prepare us for His Son’s return in the same way He prepared the nation of Israel for the coming of the Messiah as He sent His messenger, John the Baptist, before Jesus, and this message John gave is the same message for our day.
Read Luke 3:2-18
There are several aspects of this message that John gives to the nation of Israel that I’d like to focus upon as we prepare to greet Jesus, not only at this time of Christmas, but when He comes again.
1. A Message of Repentance
“He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:3 NKJV)
To repent means to change our minds about what we’re doing and the direction that we’re going in, and then turn ourselves around to what is right. In others words, to turn away from our sins and head back in the direction of God and His word and way for our lives.
John the Baptist came to the nation of Israel to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, to prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ. He came to a self-absorbed nation, a nation absorbed in its own affairs and problems. They were absorbed in their everyday routines and activities, along with their religious duties and traditions.
And to this nation John the Baptist came and told them that they needed to repent. They needed to change their minds, hearts, and spirits, and get themselves turned back to God, and as a symbol of that repentance, they were to get baptized.
But why preach such a message? Because God sent John the Baptist to prepare the people’s hearts to hear and accept His method of salvation, because Israel was about to be visited by its Savior, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and thus it was about to be invaded by the Kingdom of Heaven.
John the Baptist came with the same sobering effect upon the nation of Israel, and our own lives, as that police car in the rearview mirror. He goes on to say that the ax is already laid to the tree’s roots and is ready to bring it down and toss it into the fire if it doesn’t produce that which God had designed for it to produce, which in our case, means that we need to straighten up and fly right.