September 10 - Luke 3:1-20

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Luke 3:1-20 – John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Luke begins this passage by anchoring it in time. The world Jesus enters at the age of 33 is different than the one he was born into.  In Luke 1:5, Herod was king of all Judea. Now there is a Roman governor. The Herods were nothing more than figureheads. Herod had divided his kingdom among his three sons – Archelaus, Antipas and Philip. Those three were awful. Pontius Pilate was placed in charge of that which Archelaus ruled because he was such an awful man. The Romans removed him at the request of the Jews and Samaritans.

The Herods have no more power, they answer to the Roman emperor – Tiberius. Antipas was in charge of Galilee and Philip was at Iturea and Traconitis.  Annas and Caiaphas are introduced and with Luke’s ordering of the politics at the time, he introduces us to the main character, the one who received the word of God … John.

John came out of the wilderness and into civilization. It was in the wilderness (desert) that John heard God’s word – it was in the area of the Jordan that he proclaimed it.

Luke is writing in apocalyptic imagery … John is the beginning, Jesus signifies the end. All humanity will see … be part of salvation.  John’s preaching is prophetic. He warns the people of impending judgment.

Three times they ask John “What should we do?” (Luke 3:10, 12, 14). He responds to each group who asks by telling them to stop sinning and do good. To the crowd, he calls for them to be generous with the poor; to the tax collectors, John tells them to be fair; to the soldiers, he warns them to be honest and content with what they make.

When the people ask if he is the Messiah, he defers to the one who is to come and once again uses apocalyptic imagery of the threshing floor and separation of chaff from wheat.

John’s message of repentance was not limited to the people gathered around the Jordan. He spoke out against Philip and his wife. For John, the truth was more important than his life and the leader of the Jews had once again brought his people to the brink of destruction. The Messiah would bring judgment and none would be exempt.