Preparation. One of my favorite Christmas passages is found in Galatians 4:4. The Amplified Bible says, “But when (in God’s plan) the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son…” The arrival of Christ was no last-minute response to a time of desperation or an act of exasperation. The world truly was and is desperate, but Christ’s coming is something that had been prepared for in eternity past. The entire Old Testament is a
movement to the arrival of our redeemer. Not one moment, one life, or one event was outside of God’s eternal plan for the arrival and ministry of His Son Jesus Christ. God was preparing the way.
John the Baptist arrives on the scene six months before Jesus is born and preaches repentance to Israel calling them to be baptized, marking a change of behavior and a commitment to prepare for following the coming Messiah. John was not drawing crowds for Himself, but rather he was making the way ready for Jesus, the lamb of God. Through John the Baptist, God was making preparation for Jesus’ ministry which included Jesus’ life, teaching, training, crucifixion, and resurrection.
Matthew 3 records the culmination of this preparation. We rightly celebrate the coming of Jesus, God with us, at Christmas, but Jesus’ baptism should also be celebrated. From His birth, Jesus’ identity was mostly disguised. Some obviously knew who He was, but most had no idea. He was just the son of Mary from Nazareth. The consensus being that no good thing could possibly come from Nazareth. Jesus’ first thirty years were quite normal, other than His miraculous birth and his teaching in the temple. No doubt, whatever hope, and excitement existed, soon faded back into the shadows of hopelessness and silence after His birth. Yet, God was making preparations out in the desert through a man dressed in camel skin and eating locusts and wild honey. John was proclaiming the coming Messiah and preparing the way. God was at work when no one seemed to notice or to be paying attention.
When Jesus asks John the Baptist to baptize Him, John himself seemed to be shocked and unprepared. He initially refuses, but then acquiesces to Jesus’ request. It at this moment that the preparations of eternity past are revealed as the heavens open with what appears to be a dove descending (the Holy Spirit) and the voice of God speaking, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” In other words, my interpretation is God is saying, “I am giving You my Son who has lived a perfect life, fully giving glory to me as man was created to do. He is the One that you need to listen to and the One you
need to believe. Listen to what He says.” God was making known to all that Jesus was His plan, He was backing it, and the Son was sent from Him. The preparations were done, and God was revealing Himself, the hope of all mankind, through Jesus.
God continues His work today in our lives. The preparations for His kingdom continue. We often lose hope and feel as though God has gone silent. But He continues to speak to us through His Word and through His Spirit. We need to listen. The work of the Son is evidence enough for us that God is not going to abandon His plan, but rather He is bringing it to full completion. Not one event, one life, one relationship, etc. is outside of His plan, but rather each one continues to move forward to the full completion of His preparations. Do not lose hope. God is working!
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