Down through history and to the present time when royalty or high profile persons, such as the president, travel to a given area, a considerable amount of preparation goes into the anticipated visit. A town will sweep streets, repair buildings, make arrangements for heightened security, etc. Each individual who will be in contact with the dignitary, will be dressed their best and strictly fulfill a list requirements.
The Jewish people of Jesus' day would have welcomed their long-awaited king had He come as the power figure they desired. "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever" Isaiah 9:7. While totally ignoring the prophecies of Jesus' role as Savior from sin, they held on to their interpretation of these words as their dream – a conquering king who would free them from Rome and rule only to their advantage.
But for the coming of the Messiah, the preparation was of an entirely different sort. God said through the prophets "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" Mark 1:2-4. In place of external cleanup and preparations, this is what was needed to be ready for the arrival of Jesus – a heart change. Only those who not only recognized their sin, but repented would be in a position to receive what Jesus had to offer – salvation from sin.
Now we are waiting for the second "appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" 1 Timothy 6:14, 15. What preparation more than repentance and confession of sin is needed this time as we sit on the brink of eternity? Jesus Himself summed it up in His prayer. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent "John 17:3. Our focus of preparation is to develop a relationship with God so that "when he shall appear, we shall be like him" 1 John 3:2. We can be like Him now in unselfish loving service to others, and when Jesus comes we will be of those represented in Matthew 25:34, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world".
Kathryn Irizarry is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.