‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ (Matthew 3:3b, NIV)
John the Baptist told God’s people to “prepare the way for the Lord” … to purify their hearts and get ready for Jesus to come, redeem, restore, heal, love, challenge, and change the world. (Matthew 3:3)
I read this and smile because I like preparing things. I like to cook. I love hosting gatherings, planning party details, and preparing for guests. My son recently graduated from high school and I spent countless hours prepping for the celebration we had in his honor. It was wonderful.
When presidents, dignitaries, and heads of state are going to visit a particular town they often send people ahead of them to make sure the area is made ready for their visit. This is a different type of preparation than my domestic kind. They are serious to vet out each location regarding security. They vet out the people that will be in attendance and in charge. They prepare the way for those to whom they are in service.
John the Baptist “prepared the way” for Jesus much like this. He went to Jerusalem, all of Judea, and to the whole region of the Jordan telling the people of Israel to repent and prepare the way for Jesus by “making straight paths for Him.” (Matthew 3:6)
Prepare the way. Make straight paths.
Since these are not modern things to say, it is a smidge confusing, right?
I wondered about it, so I investigated a bit further. Here’s what I found out. The Strong’s Bible Concordance tells us that the word for “paths” in this verse is the Greek word tribos, which means, “a worn way.” (Strong’s Number G5147)
When I think of things that are worn I think of things that are familiar. Known. Broken in. Comfortable.
I love my worn jeans and the well-worn path I walk on in the woods by my house. I love my worn leather shoes and my worn Bible.
As I think about this phrase further, a few thoughts cross my mind about a “worn way.”
When a path is worn it is easy to follow. Natural.
When a path is worn, it leads to a specific destination.
These observations cause me to reflect. Have I worn a path for my heart, soul, and mind to welcome and prioritize Jesus today? Do my thought patterns, spiritual disciplines, and behaviors pave a worn path to truth and grace? Do my actions “prepare the way” for others to encounter and wonder about Jesus?
Every life points somewhere. Mine will either point others toward Jesus or away from Him. Yours will too.
I want to be a worn-path-to-Jesus woman… but how?
I make straight paths for others to see Jesus when I am kind, when I am slow to anger, when I am quick to forgive and quick to listen. When I am compassionate, faithful, and humble.
I make straight paths for others to see Jesus when I am accessible and honest. When I choose His peace over my impatience and His joy over my frustrations.
I become the worn way for my loved ones, my co-workers, and community to see Jesus when I am influenced by and responsive to the ways He loves, shows compassion, and grace freely.
What a beautiful reminder that you and I have the opportunity each day to influence others toward Jesus.
Dear Lord, Please purify my heart. Lead me in Your ways and make me a worn path to You! In Jesus’ name, amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
What is one thing you can do today to prepare the way for your family, your workplace and your community to see Jesus?
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