3 Tiberius Caesar had been ruling for 15 years. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Herod was the ruler of Galilee. His brother Philip was the ruler of Iturea and Traconitis. Lysanias was ruler of Abilene. 2 Annas and Caiaphas were high priests. At that time God’s word came to John, son of Zechariah, in the desert. 3 He went into all the countryside around the Jordan River. There he preached that people should be baptized and turn away from their sins. Then God would forgive them. 4 Here is what is written in the book of Isaiah the prophet. It says, “A messenger is calling out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley will be filled in. Every mountain and hill will be made level. The crooked roads will become straight. The rough ways will become smooth. 6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’ ”
The first part of this passage is an historical introduction of the rulers of the time, both political and religious. Tiberius was cruel and severe, Pontius Pilate was renown for brutal massacre of Jewish people, and even the high priests Annas and Caiaphas were reported as corrupt, and in their roles more for political than religious purpose. This information paints a picture of the danger of any uprising, and how it could be dealt with.
And so the passage moves to John. The word of God came to him in the desert, where he resided and “became strong in the spirit” (Luke 1:80). I am intrigued as to how God spoke to him, and gave instruction as to his purpose to fulfil the prophecy as recorded in Isaiah. John’s response was obedient and immediate, and keep in mind the potential resistance that could come from the rulers, but this did not stop him.
What a brave man. What an obedient man. He cared not for his own well being, safety or comfort, but knew his purpose for God, despite the risk. This is a true man’s man!
Father, I am inspired by the faithfulness of John. Help me to have eyes and ears open to You that I may always know your call, whether it be for a moment’s purpose, or for a lifetime’s journey. Amen
Written by Steve Fell