I’ll be the lay reader at church next week and this is one of my passages. John the Baptist — my favorite! Somehow I’ve never noted this passage before. I just found a map at the end of my study bible that showed where all the places Luke mentions were.
Luke grounds this in reality — in a time and place. It is the 15th year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Herod was ruler in Galilee. His brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis. Lysanias was ruler of Abilene.
While the Emperor, presumably, was in Rome, the rest stack together. Judea is the southern-most, Galilee is above it, and so on.
I would think that Annas and Caiaphas were high-priests in Jerusalem — sort of the center and certainly the most powerful city, yes?
All of those people, with power and wealth, with names that were known, were connected by Rome.
Somehow seeing things on a map makes it more real.
The wilderness isn’t on the map. Was there a bit of wilderness everywhere? Was the wilderness just around the Jordon river? But that’s where John son of Zechariah was — a nobody. A nobody who was picked by God. The Word of God came to John son of Zechariah and the world was the never the same afterwards.
John traveled the Jordon river proclaiming the word of God, the Voice of One Crying out in the Wilderness (with the beautiful words from Isaiah), and he proclaimed repentance for the forgiveness of sins; and he shone like hope.
It seemed to me that the map showed the Jordon river crossing the territory listed above — the man with no power except the Word of God could travel, via the wilderness and water, all over. And the powerful would be helpless to catch him or stop him or stop those in need of forgiveness from finding him.
This is rather like Luke 2, isn’t it? “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.” Yet it wasn’t Augustus’s decree that forever changed the world, was it? It was the Angels’ message to cold and humble shepherds letting them know the good news for all the world, that message did truly travel the world!
I’m so thankful for advent and Christmas and, always, for the Word of God!