Summary: Is My Heart Open to God? Series: Encountering Jesus (through the Gospel of Luke) Brad Bailey – January 13, 2019
Is My Heart Open to God?
Series: Encountering Jesus (through the Gospel of Luke)
Brad Bailey – January 13, 2019
A belated welcome into the New Year. Our planet has completed it’s rotation around the sun…and we are now on a fresh start.
It gives us the opportunity to consider how we are living... and changes we should make. Those changes may include various parts of our lives.
But there is one element more fundamental than any… and that is… our relationship with the very source and center of life.
Imagine…if someone told you that the time has come… Jesus is returning this week...and he is going to start with you. He will come to your place….within days.
What would your heart be struck with?
Would you be concerned about how tidy your place is?
Would you get excited to bring out your accomplishments?
Maybe struck by the uncertainty of what you believe.
As we continue in our series… Encountering Jesus through the Gospel of Luke…we come to an opportunity to consider that question.
We began our encounter at the start of the Gospel of Luke just 6 weeks ago… as Luke began to tell of how God came to one couple in their later years…and revealed they would be the prophet who would prepare the way for the savior… and then another who were young and engaged….that they would bear the savior of the world.
He tells of the birth. And now we move to what begins to unfold as the prophet named John begins to prepare the way for Jesus.
Luke 3:1-2?In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea (I’-tu-re’-ah) and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene-- 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.
These type of introductory words may seem insignificant to us. They may seem to be the mere “where and when and who”…that don’t mean anything to us.
But they are anything but secondary. They ground what is at hand.
1. They ground these events in real time. This is testifying to reality.
When we began our series you may recall…Luke began stating…
Luke 1:3-4 ?“…since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, …so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
• Luke was a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul.
• Luke was a doctor … distinct in discovery and detail (research, eyewitnesses, etc.)
And the kind of information he includes here… reflects his emphasis on facts.
A current way to avoid Jesus is to consider the Gospels to be some sort of religious myth.
…to dismiss what is revealed about Jesus as mere religious fabrication rather than reality.
But Luke has encountered what is real… in the context of real people and real history.
These names have come to be found true. (Even the disputed Pontius Pilate who becomes central to his trial and crucifixion… was proven true when just recently what is called the “Pilate Stone” was discovered…stating his title and year…just as Luke had said.) 
….And so he sets the context. And what a telling context it was.
2. These rulers… at every level… were well known… a reflection of how dark the times were. Rome was ruled by emperor Tiberias…who wanted to be a god
Roman governor Pilate was feared for his intimidation
And the puppet king over the Jews…was Herod… who became increasingly paranoid and who killed family and children when he felt threatened.
It was all about retaining power over others. (In this last election…some demonized the nature of Hilary Clinton…and some Donald Trump. They would be saints in comparison.)
These are the people who were going to be involved not only in John's unrighteous death, but they are going to be involved in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And so John's ministry begins while they’re in power.
It tells us of the darkness of the human heart and what rules the world ….when Jesus comes. 
And when we think that what matters most is a change in political rulers…however significant that may be… John has a different focus.
The text continues…
Luke 3:3-6 (NIV) ?3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6 And all mankind will see God's salvation.'"