January 22, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”—Luke 1:13–17 (NIV)
Have you ever tried to walk somewhere in the dark? It can be a little scary if you don’t have someone or something to illuminate (light up) the way, right? You would definitely need a flashlight, or a headlamp like people use for cave exploring, to find your way in the darkness. Headlamps are nice because they strap on to your head and the light shines on the path in front of you. That allows you to see where you are going while you use your hands for other things, such as grabbing on to rocks or picking up awesome things you might find if you’re exploring in a cave.
The interesting thing about headlamps is that they don’t point at the person wearing them, they point to other things such as the people with you or the path in front of you. They help you see where you need to go to keep you safe and out of danger.
A long time ago, a man named John the Baptist did that for Jesus—he prepared the way for the people to see that Jesus was going to come to be their Messiah (or Savior). His job was to help clear the path for the most important king to ever exist! But he didn’t actually clear a physical path for Jesus; instead, he taught people to prepare their hearts for Jesus. He taught them there was someone much greater than himself coming soon who would take away the sins of the world.
John the Baptist was the messenger God had promised in Isaiah 40:3–5. He lived in the desert because that’s what the people’s hearts were like; dry and dead. They needed to hear that Jesus was coming to forgive their sins and bring their hearts back to life with the Holy Spirit’s help! And that’s just what John the Baptist did—he helped them to realize their hearts were spiritually dead and they needed Jesus!
Did you know we can prepare our hearts for Jesus, too? We do that by realizing that God sent his Son Jesus to Earth as a baby, sent specifically to die on the cross to pay for our sins. God loves us so much that He sacrificed His only Son for us! And when we ask Him to, He will forgive our sins, live inside of us, and help us live the way He wants us to. He gives us a helper so we can do that—the Holy Spirit. And guess what? Right now, He is preparing a home for us in heaven!
Just like John the Baptist, you can light the way for your friends by telling them about Jesus! Let’s all get our headlamps on to help guide the way for our friends!
Make a homemade Candyland-type game on a large sheet of paper with a path leading to the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, and play it with your family this week. Or, make a path in your bedroom leading to a baby doll. Then, get a flashlight or headlamp and turn the lights off and pretend you are John the Baptist leading the way to the baby Jesus!