|Saint John the Baptist preaching in the Wilderness, Mola|
- Malachi 3:1-4
- Luke 1:68-79
- Philippians 1:3-11
- Luke 3:1-6
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SINAI'S LAST THUNDER (Luke 3:1-6)
What are we going to do with John the Baptist? John is one of the most vividly drawn characters in Scripture and each Advent we come face to face with him again. The four Gospels show us that Jesus’ public work began in the context of John’s ministry, and this text from Luke summarizes it well.
- John lived in the wilderness.
- John was a prophet to whom the Word of the Lord came.
- Like the Hebrew prophets who came before him, John preached repentance, urging Israel to turn back to God.
- John complemented his preaching with the prophetic action of baptism.
- John came to fulfill God’s promise given through the prophet Isaiah -- he came to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord, who was about to arrive, bringing salvation to his people.
Another way we could approach John would be to try and understand the historical context of his ministry. Luke seems especially interested in that -- did you hear how he carefully fills in the historical details about people and places that formed the social, political, and religious context for John? We could talk about why he appeared in the wilderness and why he baptized in the Jordan River and what that would have symbolized for the Jewish people. We could discuss Israel’s relationship with the Romans who ruled over them at that time, the Jews’ continuing sense of being a people in exile, and how John was raised up to address that situation.
There are many ways to approach a text as rich as this one. Today, I’d like to look at it from a close and personal angle. You see, I have an idea that John the Baptist is not a person I would like very much. And I doubt that most of you would care for him either. I’m quite sure he would not be welcomed with enthusiasm in most of our churches today.