Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” Luke 3:1-6

John the Baptizer, the Kingdom’s advance man, doing his thing out in the desert. Christmas must be around the corner.

As I’ve written before, if I get to be the casting agent for the story of the Bible, Whoopi Goldberg plays Mary Magdalene, Danny DeVito is Zacchaeus, and John the Baptist is the grungiest biker at the bar.

All the more reason to be surprised at the crowd that John draws. Why were they there? Why travel out to the middle of nowhere to hear what John had to say? Why would self respecting Jews climb down into the river to join John in his ritual cleansing?

Because life was brutally difficult. Because life under the Romans was demeaning, degrading, and terrifying. Because people living under the conditions inherent in “occupied territory” get desperate for something better. We see that now, in the most war torn places on earth. How else could groups like ISIS recruit without the promise of something better – however they might define it – than they currently have?

But John wasn’t calling for revolution. He wasn’t raising an army of warriors. His was the voice of God’s law. Shining light into the dark corners of people’s lives, of our lives. He wasn’t calling for a change in external conditions but an inward change, that people might be freed to live in love and justice, to know salvation, wholeness, and peace.

The world around us isn’t going to settle down any time soon. It won’t be a safer, saner place by next Thursday. But we can live in this world as people of hope, motivated by love, forgiven of our self-centeredness, and freed from our fear.

In our baptism we have already met John down by the river. Let’s live today as children of light.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, free us to hear John calling us by name, inviting us into the water, to let go of anything that would separate us from you and your calling in our lives. Continue to make smooth the rough places in our lives. Shape us, use us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


4 Responses to “Luke 3:1-6”

  1. loismcr Says:

    Thank you. Your message today was exactly what I needed to hear.

  2. kirk Says:

    A Men

  3. oma500 Says:

    Of course, the passage is timely, but your message just clinches the meaning and makes it even more perfect for a turbulent Advent. No, our world will not settle soon and we don’t need a revolution or war. But, we do need that light shining in the darkness. Thank you for helping us to see.

  4. Sharon Says:

    Thank you so much for writing the devotions. This one is so timely and reminds us of the hope we have in Jesus, despite the awful things that are happening in the world. Your prayers are all so meaningful. I daily lean on the last line of one you wrote a few weeks ago: “Lord, help me to do the next right thing.”
    God bless you and keep you.

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