The night our heavenly Father was born in a Bethlehem stable was a momentous event. It shouldn’t have been a surprise because the Lord was preparing the world for the birth of Jesus from the beginning of time, and He ensured that the world knew the plan through the prophecies given to Israel.

Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.
— Malachi 3:1

John the Baptist’s role was to prepare the way for Jesus. His message was that preparation for Jesus required repentance. The chorus of the song Joy to the World says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” While John the Baptist’s immediate role was to prepare the Jewish people for their Messiah, his role was also to help all believers understand that repentance was a heart action. It isn’t something that a person can do by reading enough books or through sheer willpower. This kind of radical change starts with a heart that desires to be different and the beginning of a cultivated relationship with a Father full of love for his children.

When we prepare room in our hearts for our spiritual Father, we experience what it means to have Emmanuel, God With Us.

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
— 2 Corinthians 7:10

Understanding the need for repentance is not something that usually happens suddenly. It takes preparation. The Lord understood the importance of this preparation and made a perfect plan for it. John the Baptist understood his responsibility in preparing the hearts of the world. Jesus fulfilled our hope and made a way for salvation, despite what we deserved. This is the joy of the world.