Summary: John the Baptist hits the scene as a messenger to God.
Road Work Ahead
Last week we looked at the words of Jesus, where He describes the second coming. We were reminded that no one would know the exact time. However the signs would be clear…not just to Christians or scientist. But everyone would know that destruction was coming. We were called to be ready to be the body of Christ during that time looking forward to the recreation that God would accomplish. We are to lift our heads and always be ready.
The arrival of the Advent season reminds me of how short sited and unobservant I can be….I am.
Is it just me or does December just suddenly arrive without warning? I know that it there is no mistake in the date. The calendar is correct and it is clear that we have not accidentally skipped over any days or weeks to suddenly arrive at December and the second week of Advent early. But, I cannot figure out how another year has seemingly flown by and here comes the Christmas star again.
I can tell you, I am not ready. My kids are ready. They are ready for their extra vacations form school and for the gifts I am expected to get them.
But I am not ready. I am not just talking about for the commercial side of Christmas. I am talking about the stuff I wanted to get done this year. I am talking about achieving goals, little goals in my family life, in my secular work and in our ministry together.
Does anyone else feel overwhelmed that Christmas and a New Year are upon us?
Let’s look at our scripture for this morning.
“It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests.”
Using historical documentation that would make it about 29 AD. We can guess that it was the warmer season as people came out to the river area and were baptized. If that is accurate then we are right at 2000 years since the start of the ministry of John the Baptizer. And ultimately the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus would start very soon. As a little side note, the scripture refers to two high priest. We understand that in the temple there was only 1 high priest placed in service for 1 year at a time. There are two explanations for this reference. One is that this definition describes John’s ministry as occurring over a 4 year period. The first high priest being Annas and the fourth priest being Caiaphas. Each are mentioned during the week of Jesus crucifixion. The second idea is that The Roman Governor made his own appointment of a high priest and the Jews had their own selection process.
The end result, the actual date is not really that important. But Luke is attempting to be as factual as possible as he describes Jesus’ older cousin, John’s, start of ministry.
But instead of a actual calendar he defines the historical markings for the time, because the date that we understand today did not start to much later with Emperor Constantine.
At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness. Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
This is a less colorful introduction of John that we find in the other gospels. No description of seemingly strange diet or clothing. Luke in Chapter 1 spoke of John’s parents and a visitation of an angel. John’s parents are descried as both being righteous. His dad was a priest and it was predicted that John would be born in their old age. It was prophesied that John was to be a messenger that went before the Lord to change hearts of the disobedient and prepare them for the Lord. (Luke 1-16-17)
Today we jump 30 or more years into the future. John goes to work. He leaves the wilderness where he is separated from worldly temptations and everyday sins. He has not followed in his father’s footsteps and taken on the role of a priest. He has avoided politics of the day within the empire, the Jewish community and within the temple/religious community.
He comes to the outskirts of the city on both sides of the Jordan and calls people to repentance. It seems that he does not just have a short revival down at the river. He travels to different communities along the river and preaches.