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Summary: What does building a highway have to do with preparation for celebrating Christ’s first coming? What does it have to do with preparing for Christ’s Second Coming? Let’s understand the preparation Christ expects. Let’s discuss preparing the way for Christ in Luke 3:1-6.

What does building a highway have to do with preparation for celebrating Christ’s first coming? What does it have to do with preparing for Christ’s Second Coming? Let’s understand the preparation Christ expects. Let’s discuss preparing the way for Christ in Luke 3:1-6.

Caesar

Luke 3:1 “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene.” This is the historical setting.

The 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign was around 29 AD. A tetrarch is like a monarch, but one of four joint rulers. Judea was around Jerusalem, Galilee in the north, Iturea and Trachonitis in the northeast, and Abilene north of that around Damascus. These were Roman provinces under Caesar.

Wilderness

Luke 3:2 “in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.” Tiberius was cruel and depraved. Annas and Caiaphas were puppet high priests appointed by Roman authority. Unlike great and corrupt politics, God’s work seems insignificant.

Do not despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:9-10), because God’s great works often begin small yet are of far greater significance than what’s currently in the news headlines. John’s ministry began in the wilderness, picturing a new Exodus and a new beginning preparing the way for Christ.

Repentance

Luke 3:3 “And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” John the Baptist traveled the wilderness region both sides of the Jordan with a message containing essentially the same two concepts that Jesus preached, repentance and forgiveness.

John’s baptism was a repentance-baptism, connecting physical Old Testament ritual washings with the spiritual idea of repentance. Repentance presupposes that we lack something and need to change, to turn to God. Human sins cause great harm around the world, but God’s forgiveness provides healing and restores unity in the community.

Human sins bring so much heartache. John prepared the way for true the Savior of the world. Many things crowd out the Christmas message like incompetent politics and incessant commercialism. The message of Christ’s coming is far more important. It was announced with a baptism of repentance in a wilderness.

Luke 3:4 “as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.” Is an announcement in the barren spiritual waste of modern society a hopeless message?

Luke 3:5 “Every ravine will be filled, And every mountain and hill will be brought low; The crooked will become straight, And the rough roads smooth; And all flesh will see the salvation of God.” This message is not a waste. It is preparing the way for Christ’s coming.

John fulfilled Isaiah 40:3-5. Basic principles of highway construction are making things straight, level and smooth. Paved streets dating back before Abraham have been found in Ur. The Roman Empire built roads covering almost 80,000 kilometers (50,000 miles). The world now copies the great German-American freeway system.

To create a modern highway, surveyors calculate the best route, civil engineers design and regional authorities give approval, land is purchased, rock and earth are removed, depressions are filled, and embankments, bridges and tunnels must be constructed. Drainage and water courses are integrated. Prescribed maximum gradients help improve fuel efficiency.

All this preparation takes place before the first level of road bed is put down. Road layers may consist of subgrade, sub base, base, intermediate and surface layers. The thickness of these layers varies widely around the world. John’s use of Isaiah’s road building metaphor pictures preparation to receive Christ.

Luke 3:6 “And all flesh will see the salvation of God.” Preparation for Christ’s coming is in turning to God with a changed heart. Jesus died rejected by the world. He comes to a people prepared to receive him. Straight, level and smooth describes lives prepared to receive Jesus.

God is often involved in small things, far away from the power and wealth that this world seeks, in an insignificant wilderness. The big things of this world are really insignificant. The seemingly small things of God are more important than all the power, wealth and celebrity of the world.

Do Christ’s teachings find a fast freeway into our hearts, or rocky access? We are preparing for an observance of the Incarnation, the Word made flesh. As our season of joy approaches, let us remember that most important preparation is turning stoney hearts into smooth roads to welcome Christ’s coming.

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

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