“The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.” (Luke 1:80)


These words are the singular account of the childhood of John the Baptist. We know little about the upbringing of the one of whom his father Zechariah had prophesied, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” (Luke 1:76)

Believing God’s judgment to be immanent, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and told the crowds who came out to be baptized to bear fruits worthy of repentance.

When asked how to live in the face of imminent judgment, John said those who have more food and clothing than they need should share with those who have none. He told tax collectors to “collect no more than the amount prescribed for you” and soldiers to refrain from extortion “and be satisfied with your wages.” In short—be generous, be honest, treat people right.

Two millennia removed from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ we find ourselves in a similar spot as John the Baptist. In a peculiar twist, we who follow Jesus are, like John, called to go before the Lord to prepare his ways in our hearts as well as in the world.

This year, what would it look like if, on our way to the manger, in the busyness of our preparation for Christmas, we took the time to be present to someone who is hurting and alone?

What would it look like just to listen to the pain of another, without passing judgment or needing to fix whatever is troubling that person—to offer a kind word or a comforting presence?

In this time of the pandemic, what would it look like to visit the sick and imprisoned, to provide food and water for the hungry and thirsty, to welcome the stranger, not because we have something to offer, but because we know that in doing so we meet Jesus?

This Advent, in this sin-sick world of mixed-up confusion, follow in the footsteps of John the Baptist. Wherever you find yourself, in whatever circumstance or situation, be a prophet of the Most High. Go before the Lord to prepare his ways.


Curtis Ramsey-Lucas is editor of The Christian Citizen and author of #InThisTogether: Ministry in Times of Crisis, available from Judson Press. For more, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.


Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash