Luke's Messiah (02) - Promised Preparation
Luke’s Messiah (2) - Promised Preparation (Luke 3:1-6)
Luke 3:1–6 - Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT. 5 ‘EVERY RAVINE WILL BE FILLED, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL WILL BE BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED WILL BECOME STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH ROADS SMOOTH; 6 AND ALL FLESH WILL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.’”
The Lord Prepared the World Historically (v1-2) - It happened in history and Christian faith depends on factual history, “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea.” Tiberius was Roman emperor from 14-37 (A.D., anno Domini) which makes this about 28 A.D. Providentially, God prepared the world by a) the political influence of the Romans; b) Through the cultural and intellectual influence of the Greeks; and c) Through the religious influence of the Jews. John arises as part of that preparation, son of a priest, performing his duties outside the temple.
The Lord Prepared Israel Prophetically (vv4-6)- Throughout the Old Covenant saga of Israel we find promises of God’s coming of Messiah. As in this text, Isaiah and many prophets promised both the judgment and salvation. Israel was to cling to the promises that the way would be “leveled.” They would turn from their alienation from and rebellion against God. God would flatten out the barriers (bringing mountains down and raising valleys) to His presence. God removed the temple mountain, earthly Jerusalem and raised the standing of the lowly followers of Jesus. In this set of events, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” God’s salvation would become known to the world through Christ.
The Lord Prepared His People Spiritually (v3)- The Word came to John in the wilderness (outside of the temple). For those who were spiritually prepared, he preached “a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” The people needed to recognize the corruption of their temple. John led a remnant Israel “beyond the Jordan” in “a symbolic exodus from Jerusalem and Judea” (Colin Brown). John likely stood in the Jordan with a hyssop branch ritually sprinkling the crowds traversing the Jordan to enter the land as a renewed Israel. By this they could know true forgiveness. Apart from this they would know only deserved judgment.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more