My Reflections Daily Office Lectionary for 12/22/2012
Preparing the Way for Us
A straight and level path is always the easiest to walk. The uneven, crooked, with sudden turns, constantly up and down, type of path that is more difficult.
In our gospel passage this morning hear John the Baptist utter these words;
As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“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 shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
(Luke 3:4-6 ESV)
John the Baptist came to prepare the way of the Lord. It was his duty as a prophet of God to pave the way for the Messiah, so that the Messiah would have smooth path of entrance into the world. And in fact, the transition between John and Jesus in the gospels is fairly smooth. Jesus indeed picks up where John left off and many of Johns disciples at his behest, become Jesus disciples.
If the Messiah is to on straightened and evened paths, where every low place has been filled, where mountains have been laid low, and the crooked and rough places have been removed, so the path is indeed level. What kind of path are we to walk upon as His followers?
Though many things can be said in answer to this question, I think the New Testament reading from this morning gives a good answer.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)
We must trust in the one who can keep us from ‘stumbling’. We must follow in His footsteps. We must follow in the upright and righteous path that He has set before us. That path will lead us into the “presence of His glory with great joy…” where we will be found “blameless”.
Any other deviation off the path Jesus has provided for us will lead us in the wrong way and away from His presence. And when we take a path that leads us away from Christ and His will for our lives, we indeed have no one to blame but ourselves. Making the choice to go the wrong way is hardly, “blameless” .
Jude also reminds us that it is Jesus who is able to keep us blameless. Paul would remind us that, when we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. John would tell us when we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship the Son and His Father, as well as with one another. And this is all in Christ and all by grace. It is Jesus Himself that enables us to walk the level, even, right, and righteous path and who keeps us from stumbling.
Just as John prepared the way of the Lord, so the Lord has prepared the way for us! Jesus alone is the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus alone is the good Shepherd who leads His sheep on the path to green pastures, still waters, through the valley of the shadow, where a table is set for us before our enemies, and into the house of the Lord. We must depend on Jesus to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves or by ourselves.
Peter’s path over the stormy sea was a level and straight despite the unevenness of the waves. It was only when Peter looked away from Jesus at the wind and the waves and the storm raging around him that he began to sink. It was the gracious hand of Jesus that lifted him back up when cried for help and once again affixed his gaze and his faith on our Lord. Jesus enabled him to do what he could not do by himself.
If Jesus can enable Peter to walk on the unstable surface of a stormy sea, then He can provide whatever is necessary for me to walk in His footsteps today and every day.
Today, each choice I make will either take me in the direction the Lord wants me to go or on some other path away from His will. I must allow Him to guide me and instruct me in my choices.
The straight path according to scripture is narrow. So I must focus on Him and the path He has laid before me in accordance with the teachings of Gods Word, as I follow Him.
but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
(1 John 2:5-6 ESV)
He alone can enable me to walk as He walked. To walk in His footsteps I need Him to walk in me.
Soli Deo Gloria
D. M. Sutton