Growing up as a boy, I never thought much about the Christmas carols. I never wondered who wrote them. I never wondered where the lyrics came from. But this Christmas, we are going to reflect on a line from “Joy to the World” that has become the basis for a new Christmas song. The original lyric goes, “let every heart, prepare him room” which I think refers to John the Baptist, but more on that later. For now, I’m curious…what does it mean for you to prepare room in your heart for the Messiah baby?
The song starts by pondering the incarnation. The mystery is revealed! A virgin gives birth to a son and that boy is the messiah who will save the world. And not only that, He is the King of Glory!
O behold, the mystery now unfolds
See the star shine on the virgin foretold
Angels sing and light up the sky
Hope rings out in a newborn’s cry
Swing wide, you ancient gates
For Christ is born today!
You probably were tracking with the song until the second to last line, right? Ancient gates? What is that about? It comes from Psalm 24 as the writer calls to the gate of Jerusalem to welcome in the triumphant Messiah king.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in. -Psalm 24:9
The song continues the call not only to Jerusalem, but our own hearts…
Prepare Him room
Prepare Him room
Let the King of glory enter in
As I looked into the song, I realized that “prepare Him room” is a poetic rephrasing in “Joy to the World” from Isaiah and Matthew. Both passages predict John the Baptist.
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’” -Matthew 3:3
And John’s words still ring true today. Verse 2 takes us to the present time and again calls us to hear the “words of life”.
God with us, the promise has come to be
This, the one the prophets were longing to see
In the darkness a blazing light
To the hungry the words of life
His kingdom now is near
For those with ears to hear
Up until now, it’s been a good biblical song. At this point, however, it drops a bomb on our nice little, perfect Christmas. Presents, parties, trees, services, caroling, candy, cookies, family dinners and decorations are all good things. But they also make us busy. So busy that we might miss the knock. Verse 3 is a quiet challenge…
Oh, our hearts, as busy as Bethlehem
Hear Him knock, don’t say there’s no room in the inn
Through the cradle, cross, and grave
See the love of God displayed
Now He’s risen and He reigns
Praise the Name above all names!
It’s a powerful song that doesn’t leave us with the baby in the manger. The song reminds us that Christ became a man who lived, died and rose from the dead. He is the King of Glory and that begs the question:
what does it mean for you to “prepare room” for the Messiah baby?