Summary: John the Baptist came preparing the way. We need to prepare the way for Christ in our hearts and our world as well as we look forward to Christmas.
Second Sunady of Advent 2005
Dr. Paul G. Humphrey
The following series of advertisements reportedly appeared in a daily newspaper:
Monday: "The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale. Telephone 626-1313 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Donnelley who lives with him, cheap."
Tuesday: "We regret any embarrassment caused to Rev. Jones by a typographical error in yesterday’s paper. The ad should have read: ’The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale, cheap...Telephone 626-1313 and ask for Mrs. Donnelley, who lives with him after 7 p.m.’"
Wednesday: "The Rev. A.J. Jones informs us that he has received several annoying telephone calls because of an incorrect ad in yesterday’s paper. It should have read: ’The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale, cheap. Telephone 626-1313 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Donnelley who loves with him.’"
Thursday: "Please take notice that I, the Rev. A.J. Jones, have no color TV set for sale; I have smashed it. Don’t call 626-1313 anymore. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Donnelley. She was, until yesterday, my housekeeper.’"
Friday: "Wanted: a housekeeper. Usual housekeeping duties. Good pay. Love in, Rev. A.J. Jones. Telephone 626-1313.’"
Mistakes are inevitable in the publishing business. They are inevitable in life, as well.
(SermonCentral, SOURCE: First United Methodist Church, Meadville, PA. Content, The Newsletter, August, 1990, p. 3. Contributed by: David Yarbrough)
We each and every one have made great mistakes. But the good news of the Gospel is that God has a remedy. Jesus is coming! He enters into broken lives with a double cure for sin and mistakes. Prepare his way!
I. Preparing our Hearts
Let us look together to chapter one of the book of Mark.
MK 1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
MK 1:2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
"I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way" –
MK 1:3 "a voice of one calling in the desert,
`Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him." 
The very beginning of Mark not only quotes, but shows the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy regarding the coming Messiah. We see in the next few verses that John the Baptist is the fore-runner who will prepare the way for the Messiah, and we see that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
I hope that you realize that verse three says something very special about the presence of Jesus. It says prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight. If you look at the verse in the Old Testament from which this comes, Isaiah 40:3, your Bible probably has LORD written in capital letters, which designates that the Hebrew word behind it is YHWH, the unspeakable name of God. Prepare the way of God!
The commandment is “make his paths straight.”
I have read that in ancient times, when a king would visit a city, messengers (heralds) would be sent ahead and the people of a city would go out and prepare the roads. Romans certainly took great pride in their roads. Yet, the way that Scripture is speaking of is not a road of dirt or stone, but a road of flesh, the heart.
How did John make the paths straight for the coming of the Messiah? Look with me to verse four.
MK 1:4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
For John, primary to his task of preparing the way for the coming Messiah was a preaching of repentance, and through this baptism the cleansing was illustrated. As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, repentance is paramount. You don’t hear a lot of sermons these days on repentance. People think, “Oh, that is negative.” But let me tell you, it is a topic that can bring happiness into your life like no other topic that I know.
PS 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.”
There is another that is very similar.
PS 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
When was the last time that you got on your knees and let the tears flow before God for the regrets over wrong decisions that you have made in life? Sin is often doing something wrong (sins of commission), but most of the sins that Jesus addresses concern the failure to do something right (sins of omission). Either way, they are regrets and mistakes. If our sins are not regrets, then we are not going to be repenting of them anyway.
The message of Christmas, “A Savior has come” is a message that says, “we can lay our sins, our worries, our regrets, our fears and so many other things that wiegh us down at the feet of God.”