In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
Preparing the Way
Today’s Bible passage begins with a list of some powerful individuals: emperors, governors, kings, and high priests. The author wanted to pinpoint for us the time in history when the ministry of John the Baptist started. The incidents in the life of Jesus that Luke would go on to describe were verifiable historical events. But as influential as these rulers were in their day, someone far more important was about to arrive on the scene.
When VIPs travel, they want to ensure that everything is ready for their arrival in advance. Messengers and assistants are sent ahead to make necessary arrangements, looking to maximize the impact of the dignitary’s visit. If this is true in the case of mortal men, how much more appropriate this preparation was when the Son of God himself was due to arrive!
In truth, nothing we can do would ever be enough to prepare to meet this King of kings, Jesus Christ. We cannot successfully rid our hearts of hatred, greed, and the mountain of other sinful attitudes that are repugnant to the holy God. But God himself prepares us to receive him. He works the change of repentance in our hearts through the preaching of his law and gospel. Do you want to be ready to celebrate Christmas this year? Plant yourself at the feet of those who prepare his way through clear gospel preaching.
Lord Jesus, thank you for sending messengers to prepare my heart for your coming. Amen.