Summary: ADVENT 2(C) - Stop, listen, and look because God’s voice is calling out so that all mankind will see God’s salvation.
STOP, LISTEN, LOOK
LUKE 3:1-6 DECEMBER 8, 2002
1In 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 and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene-- 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. 3He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4As 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.
5Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’ "
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
We hear, in our lifetime, certain ‘catch phrases’ that we remember. Our children are taught them in school. When it comes to fire and fire prevention, they are taught to ‘stop, drop and roll’ in case there is a fire in any building they are in. For the longest time, when you approach any railroad crossing, people would remind one another to ‘stop, look and listen.’ Maybe from time to time we forget to do that because most railroad crossings have big warning signs. They take away our preparedness to stop, look and listen. When it comes to those times when there is fog and we can’t see very far, we find it very helpful at any railroad crossing to stop, to look and especially to listen.
So it is today that this is what the Lord reminds us of as we look at John the Baptist. As he came to prepare the way of the Lord, he wanted the people to stop, to listen and to look that they would see the Lord’s salvation. This is nothing new. It’s a message that was preached from the very beginning. We look at Jeremiah. He says: "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart"(JEREMIAH 29:12,13). During these Sundays of Advent, the Lord gives us an opportunity to prepare our lives to seek Him with all of our heart, that we can see God’s salvation.
Let’s look again at what we learn about John today as we consider the theme
STOP, LISTEN, LOOK
I. God’s voice calls us
II. See God’s salvation
I. God’s voice calls us
Back in the very beginning of our text, we heard all of those names. Some names maybe sounded familiar. There were names of rulers and names of countries. More importantly, it gives us a historical setting for John the Baptist and the historical setting for Jesus, Himself. These men were not lost in the pages of history. Right here, the Bible reminds people of the setting they were in and the time in which they came. Our text says--1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…Now, Tiberius Caesar was the Roman ruler responsible for the whole region of what we would call the Promised Land where the twelve tribes had settled. We are told Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Judea was a little portion of the Promised Land. Pontius Pilate was under Tiberius Caesar. He also was connected with the Roman governor as are the next rulers that we hear about. Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene... We picture Bethlehem in the region of Judea. These other places like Iturea and Traconitis are all to the north. Herod and Philip are brothers and rulers of their regions. This gives us the setting for the government of the day. It would be like listing our presidents and governors or senators to give us a perspective.
Then we come to the church. It says, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas… familiar names once again. We remember Pontius Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas. At the end of Jesus’ life, He was brought before the church, and the high priests Annas and Caiaphas. They sent Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the secular governing authority who could condemn Jesus to death. But Pilate washed his hands of the whole affair. We see that these people involved with Jesus’ death are already here at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. They should have known better but they did not. At the end of Jesus’ ministry, they condemned Him to death. It puts this history of events into perspective.
The important part of course, is the fact that it’s not just that we know all of these government rulers, that we know all of the church rulers, but that we know what happens next… the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. Here, this is not just another John, this is John, the son of Zechariah…Zechariah and Elizabeth. What do we remember about that? The angel came and promised to Zechariah and Elizabeth that they would have a son. Zechariah didn’t quite believe that because both of them were very old. Because of that, you may remember, Zechariah could not speak. He was not able to speak until John was born. When John was born, the relatives asked Zechariah what they should call that infant. He wrote on a tablet JOHN. They were wondering what was the matter with Zechariah. None of their grandfathers or anyone else in their family was named John. Zechariah was not named John, yet God had told him that this would be John. Once he was named John, Zechariah could speak again.