The Gospel of Luke isn’t written in a straight chronological order. After telling us about John the Baptist ministry, Luke reports that John was thrown in jail by Herod Antipas for publicly denouncing his adultry with his brother’s wife. People never have liked having their sins exposed. Luke then reports Jesus baptism. John could not have done that in jail. We don’t know how long John’s ministry lasted after Jesus was baptized. But we do know that John played an important role by preparing the way for Jesus.
John announced the Good News that the Savior was coming. John never claimed to be the Savior. He told them the Savior is greater and will do great things. That’s the Good News. The bad news is for those who don’t listen, don’t repent, don’t believe. They will be judged for their sins and lack of faith. That is why John says to repent and believe the Good News.
Repentance leads to changes. Faith calls for response. John tells people to be fair and honest with others, to look out for their needs as much as you look out for yourself. Good advice still today.
Many of the Jewish people were proud of their ancestry. They thought being a descendant of Abraham gave them a special place in God’s eyes. John the Baptist told them not to rely on their relatives. Instead they should repent and renew their relationship with God. That’s good advice still today.
God promised through the Prophet Isaiah that the Savior would come. God also used Isaiah to predict that another man would set the stage for the Messiah by calling the people to prepare for His coming. The preparation would begin in the wilderness. We need to be prepared and prepare others for the coming of the Lord.
John was sent to prepare people for Jesus. His words were a call to repent. That means to turn from disobeying God and doing our own thing to obeying God and walking with Him in faith. If we are content the way things are, if we think we don’t have any sin in our lives, then we don’t see the need for a Savior from sin. That is why the call to repent comes before the Gospel of forgiveness and grace.
Luke has just fast forward about 18 years. The players on the governmental stage have changed. So Luke sets the next part of the Gospel story in history. The Roman Emperor has changed. Herod the Great died years ago. His territory is now governed by two of his sons and Pontius Pilate. The High Priest role is shared by the family of Annas and Caiaphas. Zechariah’s son John has grown up and is about to begin calling people to repentance and preparing the way for Jesus. God acted then. God is still active at this time in our world and in our lives.
Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple talking with the Old Testament scholars. Jesus was in His Father’s House doing the Father’s business. Jesus kept a close connection with God the Father. Shouldn’t we try to do the same thing?
Jesus grew up in a real family. They went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. When Jesus was 12 his family left him behind. Panic. Crisis. Amber Alert. God’s Son was missing. The search was on. So Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem to look for Jesus. They found Him in the temple talking with the religious teachers. Mary and Joseph’s search brought them to “God’s House.” There is no better place to go in a crisis than to the Lord.
Jesus grew up in Nazareth. He didn’t grow up in a palace or on a military base. Jesus grew up in a “blue collar” family in a remote part of Israel. He grew up as a man and in His relationship with God the Father. Growing as a person and in our relationship with God is also important for us.