John the Baptist Prepares the Way – Luke 3: 1-6:
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country 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:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
Luke’s Gospel is my favorite to read during this season of Advent. I always find myself returning to the King James Version as I read the familiar stories of the birth of Christ. The term Advent simply refers to the waiting and the preparation for the coming of the Christ child. During this time of Advent, we are reminded of the coming of Christ in ancient times and we also expectantly await the Second Coming of Christ, sometime in the future.
This story reminds me of how God uses the weak, overlooked, less powerful, most unlikely people to reveal His plan and will to the world. Luke begins this story of John the Baptist by mentioning seven powerful men who were very prominent during this time in history. It seems that Luke wants us to understand just how powerful and impressive these men are that John the Baptist is up against. How in the world will a man like John, dressed in clothes made of camel’s hair, and eating a diet that consists of locusts and wild honey, ever be able to stand against these influential and mighty men?
Just when we think that all hope is lost and that John doesn’t stand a chance against these prevailing and commanding men, we realize that God is in John’s corner. The Word of God is what John is going to stand upon and preach upon. John alone, doesn’t stand a chance against the power that he is up against. And the truth is that these seven powerful men don’t stand a chance of preventing God from carrying out his plan of salvation and redemption. God is in charge and in control – He is carrying out His will from heaven – and he is using John, the insignificant son of Zechariah.
Many of you that will read this story may also feel powerless, insignificant, weak and without hope. The world that we live in, wants us to believe that you must be rich and influential and have lots of connections if you want to be successful and important. We tend to value how much income someone makes or how many degrees they hold or what kind of job they have. As followers of Christ, we need to be often reminded that we live in this world – but we are not of this world.
These seven men that Luke names are indeed impressive, by the standards of this world. Luke reminds us however, that we serve a God who simply laughs at such pretend power. Luke reminds us that God uses those of us that are weak, and powerless, and insignificant to go and spread the Gospel. God uses bi-vocational preachers, janitors, carpenters, corporate executives, nurses, sanitation workers, and stay-at-home parents to proclaim the Word of God. God did it over 2,000 years ago and God is still doing it today. Praise God! Amen.