Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel reading from Luke 3:1-20 gives us not only insight into the work of God, not only into the identity of John the Baptizer, but also into the author Luke and the kind of critical response he expected.
Observe how carefully Luke dates this event. He doesn’t give a month and day, but he identifies the various political leaders of the time, whose terms of office overlap. He also identifies the various political leaders of the time, whose terms of office overlap. He also identifies both the person recognized by the Jews as their rightful high priest as well as the one who was a political appointee. Luke here is making sure his readers can place the event clearly in time and space. For what it’s worth, for much of the time since these events, everyone accepted the reality of the account. It was not until the late 18th century that some scholars suggested these people may not have been real, as they were not clearly identified in historical sources. Since that time, archaeology as confirmed the identity and time frame. The account seems quite reliable in its details.
Some of these details are of great importance. What does John identify as God’s priority? His people are to be recognized by repentance which leads to just and charitable actions. In short, they are to beh onest, share with others, and not seek their own profit in such a way as to harm others. That’s a very good summary of the Christian life. In light of the goodness of God, we live lives which value the same kind of charity God has given.
There’s something more to this passage, though. Is John the Messiah? He is not. The Messiah is more worthy than John by far. Notice the work of the Messiah in verses 16-17. He pours out the Holy Spirit and cleans things up, gathering wheat for good use and burning up the chaff. Metaphorically, he gathers his repentant followers for the good of the world but he will sweep the rest into a pile destined for destruction. John calls his hearers, and us, to a life as repentant followers of Jesus, trusting in him rather than ourselves. May we be found in him this way.
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