1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiber'i-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturae'a and Trachoni'tis, and Lysa'ni-as tetrarch of Abile'ne, 2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Ca'iaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechari'ah in the wilderness; 3 and he went into all the region about 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: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
Meditation: Who is John the Baptist and what is the significance of his message for our lives? In dramatic fashion Luke tells us when John came on the world scene. The world's rulers paled in reference to this son of a priest whose task was to make the way for the King who is above all other kings. John stood at a pivotal juncture in the history of God's dealing with his people. He bridged the Old and New Testaments. John was a prophet, a spokesman for God. "The word of God came to John in the wilderness." John was pre-eminently the Servant of the Word, the Word of God who became flesh for our sake and for our salvation. Why was he is the wilderness? John was called from an early age to devote himself to prayer and to the word of God. God taught him in the solitude of the desert and prepared him for ministry and for spiritual warfare. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who point the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the new Testament witnesses and martyrs.
When a king toured his kingdom, he sent his courier ahead to prepare the way. John is the courier of the Messianic King who comes to usher in the kingdom or reign of God. Isaiah had long ago prophesied the role of the Forerunner of the Messiah. John undoubtedly took this word to heart as he searched the scriptures and reflected on the word of the Lord in the wilderness. How does one prepare for the coming of the King and his heavenly kingdom? By conversion -- turning heart and mind from sin and rebellion to trust and submission to God's word and will for our lives. Luke's gospel emphasizes the universal call of the gospel to all without distinction. He quotes from the prophet Isaiah that "all flesh shall see the salvation of God." John stood at the door of a new era of grace and salvation. He saw from a distance what Jesus the Messiah would accomplish through his death and resurrection -- pardon for our sins and eternal life for all who would believe in his name. Do you witness to others the joy and freedom of the gospel?
"Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with love
for your word. May I radiate the joy of the gospel to those around