A Straight Path – Week of December 6, 2021
Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. And all people will see God’s salvation.
Luke 3:4b, 6
My neighbor recently returned from a kayaking trip. He started at the source of the Mississippi River, Lake Itasca in Minnesota, and traveled 2,340 miles to the mouth of the river in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of his trip planning, he printed maps of the river in segments. He was surprised at how many twists and turns the river makes, even before leaving the state of Minnesota! What seemed like a “straight shot” from Minnesota to Louisiana was not straight at all!
To prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, God sent a man named John. God sent John with a mission: to help people get ready for, or “make straight paths” for Jesus. John spent his ministry teaching repentance and baptizing new believers. To repent means to be sorry for one’s sins, to sincerely acknowledge one’s sins and believe in Christ’s forgiveness. As John was preparing the path for Jesus, he taught people both parts of repentance: that they should not only sincerely acknowledge their sins but also believe the amazing news that those sins are forgiven.
John’s job was to tell people that the time for the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise was near. Jesus was near! As John was preaching about repentance, God used the time to humble his people. John did not gush about how friendly Jesus would be, how Jesus would heal people and give them food. Although Jesus would be and do all these things, that is not why Jesus came into this world. John’s message was this: we are sinners and we need a Savior. We disobey God every day and even the good that we do is tainted with selfishness. We need Jesus and his forgiveness, every day. We are humbled at this thought!
But Jesus is near! Jesus walked on the earth at the same time as John and would be the one to save the world. Jesus is the only path to heaven. So many people think that the “straight shot” to heaven is to help others, give back, or “throw kindness like confetti”. But this is NOT the way to heaven. The only path to heaven has nothing to do with what good we have done. In fact, we get to go to heaven in spite of what we have done. When we are humbled in acknowledging our sins, Jesus forgives us and welcomes us into his heavenly home. Jesus is the truth, the life and the way!
Dear Jesus, we are thankful for John, who showed people the truth of your purpose long ago. Thank you for being the truth, the life, and the way to heaven. We are sorry for the wrong that we do. We believe in your promise of forgiveness. Give us the strength to live as a new person in the family of Christ. Amen.
A Question to Consider:
What things can you do to “prepare the way” for Jesus to come into your heart and home this Christmas season?