Loving and faithful God, help me to serve you in ways that please you and bring you glory.
Read LUKE 3:1-20
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 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.’”[a]
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[b] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectMeditate on what it means to be a person who is ‘like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither’ (Psalm 1:3).
Wonder and wonders surrounded John’s birth: an angelic announcement, a sign, a miracle birth, an astounding prophecy. Everyone wondered, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ (Luke 1:66). But amid these great expectations, John retreats into the obscurity of the wilderness and remains there until the word of God calls him out of hibernation and thrusts him into the limelight (vs 1,2).
John’s wilderness years remind me of the bamboo plant. After its seed is planted, months and years pass with no visible growth. Then, around the fifth year, life bursts forth from the ground and the bamboo plant reaches a staggering 80 feet in just six weeks! During those long months of invisibility, and apparent inactivity, a strong root system was being formed to support the giant plant that would emerge.
In the wilderness, the one who would prepare the way for the Lord was being prepared for his very public, very vocal ministry. When John finally speaks, it is like ‘thunder in the desert!’ (v 4, The Message). His words confront (vs 7–9), counsel (vs 10–14), comfort (vs 16,18), and convict (v 19).
‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity…’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Where do you need God’s wisdom to discern your season in life, grace to navigate it, and strength to be obedient to its demands?
Gracious God, when I find myself in wilderness places, let me feel your presence and trust your in faithfulness.
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