Saturday, March 5, 2016

Luke 3:1-6

Luke 3:1-6
And in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate governed Judea, while Herod was a tetrarch of Galilee, while his brother Philip was tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitus, while Lysanius was tetrarch of Abilene, and upon the chief priest Annas and Caiaphas, the breath of God came upon John the Son of Zechariah in the wilderness.  And he went into all the neighboring places of the Jordan while proclaiming a baptism of repentance into the forgiveness of sin as it has been written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “A voice while calling out in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths, every valley will be filled, every mountain and hill will be lowered, the crooked will be into straightness, and the uneven will be into smooth ways.  And all flesh will see the salvation of God. 

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

It is really easy to overlook the opening few verses of this passage.  After all, who really cares about all of these rulers when we are studying the life of Christ, right?  But we need to remember that Luke is writing out of his historical research into Jesus.  Luke is looking for the facts of the story.  Luke is looking to validate the witness of Jesus.  Part of that witness is putting Jesus in a legitimate historical context.  Luke’s audience would have heard of Tiberius Caesar.  They could have heard of – or at least researched – Pontius Pilate.  The Jews would certainly be familiar with the names of Annas and Caiaphas.  Luke is establishing the witness.  These verses may not add much to the story of Jesus, but they give us every reason to trust the story.

Is it important to you to know the actually historical context of Jesus?  What does it add to the story?

Second Thought:

We hear that John proclaimed in the wilderness.  The breath of god came upon John and he went and preached in the wilderness.  Why did he go to the wilderness?  Remember that he was the son of a priest.  He would know what the religious institution was like.  He would also know that his message wouldn’t be received well.  Since the religious institutions controlled all of the populated places, he would naturally go elsewhere.  So John went into the wilderness to proclaim the message of God that came upon him.  He is a courageous man.  He went away from civilization to proclaim an unpopular message that would put him at odds with the religious institution.

Would you be willing to step away from society to follow God?  Would you be willing to live at odds with the major religious institution if God asked you?

Third Thought:

If we look at the message of John, we’ll find out why his message was so controversial.  He preached about a baptism of repentance.  In other words, John preached about lives that are actually changed.  If we look at the quote from Isaiah we really get a sense of this expectation.  Paths are made straight.  Valleys are raised.  Mountains are lowered.  Crooked things become straight.  Uneven things will become smooth.  In other words, John was about proclaiming a message that brought people to a new place – perhaps even an opposite place.  John preached a message of contrast.  John preached a message that was counter-cultural.  John cast out the culture of the religious leaders of his day and put forth a new idea.

What does it say about John that he is willing to proclaim an unpopular message?  Why do you think it is important to hear that the story of Jesus starts with a message that is about change and is counter-cultural?  How does this fit in with the parts of the Gospel of Luke that we’ve already studied?


Passage for Tomorrow: Luke 3:7-9
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