In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,Luke is a careful historian - he lists the emperor, the Roman governor, the 3 other regional puppet kings in Israel (showing in what a mess the kingship of Israel!), the 2 high priests (showing something dodgy's going on in the priesthood!), and ignoring them all, as if totally irrelevant, the Word of God came... to a bloke called John, born to thus-far-barren elderly parents, who was in charge of that thriving metropolis... ah, no, he's hanging out in the wilderness. Love it!
Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea,
and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. [Luke 3.1-2, ESV]
But this isn't just a communist manifesto of power to the ordinary people! This tramp guy knows what to do with the word of the Lord. It's not a matter of political power, nor a matter of adding to the priestly regulations. This is a gracious word, an opportunity to be reconciled to God, and the desert tramp knows he must spread the word. We read on:
And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.How did he know what to do? I'm sure he'd been studying God's word already given, written in the Scriptures:
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.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
What would you do if God spoke to you? Not Barack Obama, not a famous star, not an MP, not a minister of religion, but ordinary you? Maybe through an angel or something...
But hang on a minute! That's just what God has done: spoken to you.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. [Heb 1]What will you do with what God has spoken to you? It could be dangerous to ignore God who speaks. But exciting to respond - to an undeserved, un-asked for word of reconciliation with the living God!