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Today’s Reading: Luke 3:1-20
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachoni tis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; 3 and he went into all the region about 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, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 7 He said therefore to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 And the multitudes asked him, “What thenshall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than is appointed you.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” 15 As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod thetetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodi-as, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he shut up John in prison.
Isaiah’s words announce the restoration of Israel and the world (Is 40:3-5). John is the desert voice calling Israel to prepare for the Lord’s coming. Just as roads were improved for the procession of ancient kings, so John prepares for Jesus’ arrival and the salvation of all flesh.
By citing the opening chapter of Isaiah’s central section (chaps. 40-55), Luke cues an entire symphony of biblical promises to be fulfilled by the Lord. He will rescue the poor and oppressed, pour out the Spirit, restore Israel, come to Jerusalem as King, destroy his enemies, and show mercy to his children. At the summit of this stands the messianic Servant, whose mission is to blessthe nations and atone for sin. All of this is fulfilled by Jesus.