Summary: An important preparation you’ll make this Christmas is the preparation of your heart.We make the best kind of preparation for Christmas when we fulfill our calling in Jesus, preach & live a compelling message, & understand our relationship with Him
The most important preparation you’ll make this Christmas
is the preparation of your heart
John fulfilled his calling.
John preached and lived a compelling message.
John had an accurate perspective of himself.
How do we make the best kind of preparation for Christmas?
1. Make sure we fulfill our calling in Jesus vv.1-3
2. Make sure we preach and live a compelling message. Vv.4-6
3. Make sure we understand our relationship with Jesus. vv.7-8
Don’t you just love Christmas? I’m not really a traditional guy, but I love all the traditions that go into Christmas. Traditions of course vary according to family, culture and country. In Russia/Ukraine, they celebrate Christmas on January 7…they’re a little slow over there. JK, the reason is that the Eastern Orthodox church there follows the old Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar like the rest of the world. Many will fast for 39 days up to Christmas eve when they break the fast with a 12 course meal. Yeah.
In the Czech republic, all the single ladies will stand about 10 feet from the front door and throw one of their shoes toward the door. If the toe is pointing outward toward the door, they will get married. If the heel of the shoe is pointing toward the door, another year of being single. (play “All the single ladies 5-8 seconds).
In Venezuala, all the roads are closed on Christmas Eve so that everyone can roller skate to mass.
Traditions in our country include putting out lights and decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas presents. And we’ll spend a lot of time this Christmas maintaining those traditions.
This Christmas season, we want to focus—not on the cultural traditions—but on the spiritual traditions of this most wonderful time of the year. So with all the traditions you may have about Christmas, and all the preparations you’ll make for Christmas, The most important preparation you’ll make this Christmas is the preparation of your heart
Turn to Mark 1:1-8 We don’t know a lot about John. We do know that he was the cousin of Jesus. We know that because when Mary found out she was pregnant, she went to see her cousin, Elizabeth who as also pregnant with John, and when Mary greeted her cousin, John leapt in her womb.
We know that he was a compelling and powerful preacher. People flocked to his preaching from all over Judea and Samaria. We also know that his boldness and take no prisoner attitude eventually landed him in jail and ultimately was beheaded for it.
But here at the beginning of the book of Mark, we see his most important feature: he was a forerunner to Jesus. His role was to make preparation for the public ministry of Jesus. So let’s read this passage this morning and dig into the the subject: How can we prepare properly for this Christmas?
Mark 1:1-8 (on screen)
So how did John prepare for the coming of Jesus?
First, John fulfilled his calling. You’ll notice in vv.2-3, that Mark quotes a passage out Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah is known as one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. There are more prophesies about the Messiah in Isaiah than any other book. Isaiah was written 700 years before the advent of Jesus and in Isaiah 40:3-5 he makes a prediction. That someone would come onto the scene and be the herald, the announcer of the Messiah. And guess who it was? The guy we call John the Baptist.
John’s was called to announce the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus. Notice v.1 again. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark begins his gospel, not with the birth of Jesus, but with the beginning of His public ministry. That word gospel (e?a??e????): good news. What is the good news? That God became one of us; that He willingly lived amongst us and purposely died for us that we would no longer be separated from God the Father. That’s not just good news, that’s GREAT news!
John identifies Jesus as the Christ. Christ comes from Greek word Christos which is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Christ/Messiah: anointed or chosen one
And just in case the reader of Mark’s gospel was a little dense, he caps off this introduction with the declaration that Jesus the Messiah was no less than the Son of God. Jesus wasn’t just a prophet. Wasn’t just a great teacher or a great example. He was and is God; Immanuel, God with us.
Not only did John fulfill his calling, but John preached and lived a compelling message. Look at v.4 “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” He challenged the status quo: stop being self-righteous; humble yourself; seek the forgiveness of the Lord; get your life right. People paid attention to what he said because of the way he lived. Now, to be sure, he was a little weird: he wore camel-hair garments and ate locusts and wild honey. He was the first to have food allergies so he had to eat specially prepared meals. Jk. Locusts in the Bible generally meant the judgment of God. Honey generally meant the favor of God. It reminds me of the verse in Romans 11:22 “Behold the kindness and severity of God.” John’s whole life was about understanding that God wanted to bring His favor but without repentance he would bring judgment.