“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough ways smooth;
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” (Luke 3:4-6 NKJV).
Our street in Seattle was known as “Rollercoaster Road” because of the dips the asphalt took in the 1/4 mile up to the stoplight. One day new home construction began on the street, and the first job was to flatten the road. Out they came one morning with giant tractors and dozers and commotion, and my grandson and I would stand amazed at how these massive machines would take dirt from here and dump it over there and ultimately fix old Rollercoaster Road.
They had to raise the low spots, flatten the high areas, straighten out the curves, and smooth out the rough patches. That’s the kind of road John the Baptist made for the Messiah.
And he did it by instructing the people to repent. That was the preparation that people had to make. That was the essence of the dirt work. They had to repent to prepare their heart.
This message of repentance John preached still works like heavy machinery in the human heart.
• When you repent from beaten-down, guilty places, it raises you back up.
• When you repent from prideful, self-centered issues, it flattens you down.
• When you repent from lying or deceit and all the crookedness that God exposes in your heart, it straightens you out.
• And when you repent from all the bumpy, uneven areas of your life, it brings you into balance.
As Mark wrote in the first chapter of his gospel, this is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God—the preparation ministry of John the Baptist. And John’s call to all who would come, the road he cleared in the wilderness, was the call to repentance – repentance that would bring forgiveness.
Repentance brings the forgiveness of sin, relief from guilt, and deliverance from fear. Because the Messiah is on His way, and if you want to meet Him, if you’re going to be ready for Him, repent. Here at Christmas time, this is and always will be, how to prepare your heart for His arrival.