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Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Joy to the World

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing!” (Isaac Watts)

The hymn writer’s words, of course, echo Luke’s ominous remarks that at the birth of Jesus, there was no room for him and his parents in the inn (Luke 2:7). John makes it even plainer that not everyone received the earth’s coming King with open arms: “The true light, which gives light to everyone,” John writes, “was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, but his own people did not receive him” (John 1:9–11).

Rejection or Reception?

How tragic! Yes, Jesus was rejected by many, even most, whom he came to save. This is the sad reality of Christmas. Truth is not always welcome in this sin-scarred world of ours, as we are reminded of almost every day. Yet fortunately John doesn’t stop on a note of rejection; instead, he continues with a note of reception: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13).

Are you, and am I, receptive to Jesus? Or is my heart’s entrance closely guarded just as Pilate and the Jewish authorities placed guards at the empty tomb? What an irony! They tried to keep Jesus out, but they couldn’t keep Jesus from coming back to life! Similarly, it is utter folly for us to think we can keep Jesus out of our lives. At this special time of year when we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we should echo the words of the hymn writer: “Let every heart prepare him room!” And what better way to do this than reading selected portions of Scripture about the Messiah’s coming in the time leading up to Christmas?

Advent Reading Plan

The following Advent Reading Plan, reproduced from The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation by Andreas J. Kӧstenberger and Alexander E. Stewart (foreword by Justin Taylor; Wheaton: Crossway, 2015) includes six readings each from the Old Testament and from Matthew, nine from Luke, and four from John, moving from selected key Old Testament texts expressing messianic expectations to the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke and ending with John’s prologue.

Ideally, these Scripture passages should be read in conjunction with the respective chapter in The First Days of Jesus as indicated in the chart below. This will make a wonderful set of readings for individual study, families, and small groups in local churches. This resource comes with our prayers for a merry, Christ-centered Christmas!

Date Scripture Passage Topic First Days
December 1 Luke 1:1–4 An account from eyewitnesses Introduction
December 2 Genesis 49:8–12 The scepter of Judah Chapter 1
December 3 Isaiah 9:6–7; 11:1–5 A child is born; a branch of Jesse Chapter 1
December 4 Micah 5:2–4 A ruler born in Bethlehem Chapter 1
December 5 Matthew 1:1–17 Jesus’s ancestry Chapter 1
December 6 Matthew 1:18–25 The virgin birth Chapter 2
December 7 Matthew 2:1–12 The visit of the magoi Chapter 3
December 8 Matthew 2:13–15 Escape to Egypt Chapter 4
December 9 Matthew 2:16–18 Herod’s order Chapter 4
December 10 Matthew 2:19–23 Return to Nazareth Chapter 4
December 11 Luke 1:5–25 John the Baptist’s birth foretold Chapter 5
December 12 Luke 1:26–38 Jesus’s birth foretold Chapter 5
December 13 Luke 1:39–45 Mary’s visit to Elizabeth Chapter 6
December 14 Luke 1:46–56 Mary’s song (Magnificat) Chapter 6
December 15 Luke 1:57–66 Birth of John the Baptist Chapter 7
December 16 Luke 1:67–80 Zechariah’s song (Benedictus) Chapter 7
December 17 Luke 2:1–7 Birth of Jesus Christ Chapter 8
December 18 Luke 2:8–21 The angelic announcement Chapter 9
December 19 Luke 2:22–40 Simeon’s and Anna’s prophecies Chapter 10
December 20 John 1:1–5, 18 The preexistent Word Chapter 11
December 21 John 1:6–8, 15 John the Baptist’s witness Chapter 12
December 22 John 1:9–14 The Word-become-flesh Chapter 13
December 23 John 1:16–17 The law, grace, and truth Chapter 14
December 24 Isaiah 52:13–53:12 The suffering servant Chapter 15
December 25 Revelation 21:1–8 A new heaven and a new earth Epilogue


To download an excerpt of The First Days of Jesus, including the preface, the introduction, and chapter 1, see https://www.crossway.org/books/the-first-days-of-jesus-tpb, where you can also purchase a copy of the book.

You can also purchase a copy of the book at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/First-Days-Jesus-Story-Incarnation/dp/1433542781/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448913144&sr=1-1&keywords=first+days+of+jesus

Originally posted at Books at a Glance: http://www.booksataglance.com/blog/let-every-heart-prepare-him-room-guest-blog-by-andreas-kostenberger/

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