Luke 1:17, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
As the angel told Zacharias about the son that would be born to his wife Elisabeth, there must have been a mixture of excitement and disbelief regarding the work that lay ahead for his son. The angel told Zacharias of the role that his son, John, would play as the forerunner of Christ, as prophesied in the Old Testament. The summary of John’s work is given at the end of our text: “To make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
We often use the terms “ready” and “prepared” interchangeably. Yet, the definitions of the terms and the use of them here in the Bible give them a bit of a different meaning and help us to glean some wonderful Truth. “Ready” is defined, in part, as to furnish with what is necessary. “Prepared” is to be understood as fitted for a particular purpose. John was going to furnish the people of Israel with what was necessary for them to be fitted for the Lord’s purpose.
To illustrate, one might say that in order to make a cake, a person would need to make ready the ingredients in order to prepare the cake. A cake cannot be baked without first having the necessary ingredients. Once the items that are required to make the cake are collected, then it can be prepared for eating. So, too, Israel needed some necessary ingredients before they could be prepared for the Lord’s intended purpose.
When John finally began his short ministry, he did four things to make Israel ready and prepared. Firstly, John called the nation to repentance, (Matthew 3:1-2). Secondly, he compelled them to repentance by announcing the coming of Christ, (Matthew 3:3). Thirdly, John instructed the people in righteous living, (Matthew 3:7-12). And lastly, he pointed the people to Christ, (Matthew 3:11-12). The first three of these ingredients were the readying of the people, while the last ingredient was the preparation of the people. When Jesus began His ministry just six months after John had started his, John’s desire was that Jesus increase and he decrease, (John 3:30).
We, too, need to be made ready and prepared for our service for the Lord. While the individual sins and hindrances may vary from person to person, each of us needs to repent of those things that keep us from righteous living. No effort will be made to make a list; rather we leave the probing, searching, and convicting to the Spirit of God. From what do you need to repent today? What is it that is keeping you from being ready and prepared for God’s use? And if we need specific reason to repent, then we must be reminded of the coming of the Lord Jesus who will both reward and judge His people. Furthermore, repentance is of no value if it is not followed by righteous living: otherwise it is simply the sorrow of the world that worketh death, (2 Corinthians 7:10). And finally, it is with the desire of Christ increasing and self-decreasing that we strive against sin.
The question is, then, are we ready and prepared for the work and the blessings that the Lord has for us. Are we a people prepared for the Lord? May God grant it by His grace to be so.