Last week we discovered that perhaps the most important thing we can do as we prepare for the Easter season this year is to think about how to prepare the way of the Lord. We must follow in the footsteps of John the Baptists.
But just how does one “prepare the way of the Lord”?
Perhaps the best thing to do is to look to Jesus’ example: “that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21b NIV2)!
Jesus went about winning the hearts of the people by showing them pure, unadulterated, selfless love! Love that exchanged the riches of heaven for the suffering of the cross!
This doesn’t necessarily mean that we must all “go to the cross.” Rather we are told to take up our crosses: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt 10:38 NKJV). This expression means that we must be as totally devoted to God as Jesus was. So totally devoted that whatever path God lies before us, we will take it without question. Even if that path leads to death.
But Jesus doesn’t leave us with just a vague notion of what
“take up [your] cross” means. He goes on to expound:
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 10:32 NKJV)
And Jesus knew how difficult it might be to confess this might be to confess Jesus before men. He knew that confessing Him might subject us to ridicule, rejection, expulsion, persecution and even death. This is why He tells us in the very next verse: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword…” (vs 34).
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, however. Jesus tells us that those who fail to confess Him before men will also be denied before God: “I will also deny before My Father who is in Heaven.” (Vs. 33).
Jesus is serious about this, friends!
But there is more: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Vs. 37).
This shows us that carrying our crosses means we must put God above our families, jobs, lifestyles, securities, even our happiness. We must put God above everything!
But didn’t Jesus say He came to bring life and to bring it more abundantly?
Absolutely! “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, NKJV). Abundant life doesn’t mean we’ll always have peace and happiness or that all of our desires will be fulfilled, for Jesus tells us: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 10:38-39, NKJV) This means that whatever happens to us, good or bad by earthly standards, true living comes from living in Jesus!
But what does this have to do with “preparing the way of the Lord?”
It is the first step. We cannot hope to “prepare the way of the Lord” without confessing Him before men! This may sound hard, but it is only hard for the heart that is not fully devoted to God!
Friends, I would like to propose that the times when we find that it is hard to confess Jesus before men are the times when we’ve placed our families, our jobs, our own forms of happiness at a higher level of importance than God! For the heart that is truly devoted to God, confession of Jesus before men will not be something we even have to push ourselves to do. It will be a simple fruit of that relationship with God!
Join us next week for the third and last part of Preparing the Way for Easter: Showing His Love.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the rest of the “Prepare the way for Easter” mini-series, click here.)