Jesus in Nazareth and John the Baptist in the Wilderness – Matt 2-3

Chapter two relates the account of the wise men, who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We do not know how many of these men came to see Jesus. There were three gifts, so many have assumed there were three men. An angel came to Joseph and warned him of danger from Herod the Great (Herod I), and told him to take his family to Egypt. Herod had all the male children in Bethlehem under the age of two killed. At the end of the chapter, the Lord sent him back, but Joseph settled his family in Nazareth.

English: Herod the Great Suomi: Herodes Suuri

English: Herod the Great Suomi: Herodes Suuri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter 3 begins with John the Baptist preaching in the Judean wilderness, telling everyone to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – which Jesus Himself will proclaim as well. John’s manner of dress in verse 4 is distinctly similar to that described of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8, and that appearance, as well as the diet described, were common to the desert people, who would also be the poorer people of the land. This new and increasingly well-known prophet was attracting much attention from the people, and the religious community (see John 1:19-38). In verse 7, both Pharisees and Sadducees were coming out to watch his baptisms.

The word “Pharisee” means “separated one,” and they were the more popular of the Jewish sects of the times. Many seemed very self-righteous, and imposed strict adherence to teachings and “rules” that were not commanded by God’s word. The term “Sadducees” came from the sons of Zadok, who was the high priest during the days of David and Solomon (1 Kings 1:32-34). They were known as aristocrats and political opportunists; and they had much political power.

Baptism had been required of Gentiles converting to Judaism, but now John was preaching and performing baptism (immersing people in the river Jordan) for repentance – a term not only for remorse and confession, but also for “turning” one’s thinking, way of living, and even one’s mind around to different way.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Matt 1, Matt 2, Matt 3, Matt 4, Matt 5

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

John the Baptist’s Doubt – Luke 7

Jesus does many important things in the seventh chapter of Luke. First, there is the healing of the Roman Centurion’s servant in verses 1-10. Then there is the miraculous raising if the widow’s son in verses 11-17. In verses 36-50, Jesus is ding with one of the Pharisees when a woman “of the city, who was a sinner” comes to wash his feet, crying as she did so. Jesus forgave her sins, which causes a stir among those that were “at table” with them.

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But just as remarkable as any of those event, Jesus is visited by the disciples of John the Baptist. They said “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'” Jesus pointed them to things that He was doing that John would certainly recognize from prophecy. But many wonder at this expression of doubt, and some even attempt to explain it away.

The fact of the matter is that most of the Jews, including John, had been expecting something more worldly in the kingdom of the Messiah. In John’s time, they would certainly want liberation from Roman oppression. But that is the reason that so many of them missed the coming of the Messiah altogether.

We should not be too hard on John for this. It merely goes to show that even the “best” of us experience doubt from time to time. When we do, it is the Scriptures to which we must turn, just as Jesus pointed John to them. The answer is always there. We just have to search for it.

 /Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Luke 7, Luke 8, Luke 9, Luke 10, Luke 11

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Birth and Baptism of Jesus – Luke 2-3

Luke chapter 2 is about the birth of Jesus. The shepherds, who are out in their field at night, were visited by the angel of the Lord, and “the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were filled with fear.” Any time that term is used, it is accompanied by great light, which would have doubtless brightened the field substantially. This would certainly have generated fear among them.

The baptism of Jesus by John the baptist, as i...

The baptism of Jesus by John the baptist, as illustrated in the Hortus deliciarum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Telling them not to be afraid, the angel told them of the good news of the birth in the city of David of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The angel also told them how they would know him when they went to see him. We do not know what constituted the “multitude of the heavenly host” that also appeared in verses 13-14, but it would seem to at least be a multitude of angels. What else (cherubim, perhaps?) we do not know.

By the end of chapter two, Jesus is twelve years old and teaching and learning in the temple as his parents search for Him after the Passover Feast. The chapter concludes saying “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

Verses 1-21 of chapter 3 are all about John the baptist “preparing the way,” as had been foretold in Isaiah 40:3-5 and elsewhere. He was baptizing people for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. It was a completely new concept for the people that he was preaching to, especially for Jews. He reluctantly baptizes Jesus then.  In verses 19-20, Luke writes about Herod’s arrest and imprisonment of John the baptist.

Verses 23-38 of chapter three list the genealogy of Jesus Christ. But this genealogy is different from the one listed in Matthew. This writer believes, as some scholars do, that this genealogy is of the line of Jesus’ mother, Mary. For my analysis of this argument, please see this previous post.

 

 

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Luke 2, Luke 3, Luke 4, Luke 5, Luke 6

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Conceptions of Jesus and John the Baptist – Luke 1

The Book of Luke s addressed to “Theophilus,” who most scholars believe was a Gentile; and he certainly has a Greek name. Not much is known about him, but from Luke’s way of addressing him here and in the Book of Acts, he seems to be someone of nobility or in some higher office.

English: Nativity of John Baptist, 15 c, Hermi...

English: Nativity of John Baptist, 15 c, Hermitage/ Рождество Иоанна Предтечи (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verses 5-24 deal with the foretelling and conception of John the baptist. It is the only one of the gospels that gives us that information. Verses 26-38 document the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary, telling her of the coming birth of her son, Jesus.

Mary is also told by Gabriel of the conception of her cousin Elizabeth’s son (John the baptist). In verses 39-45, Mary visits Elizabeth, and when she comes close with her baby in the womb, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb is said to “leap with joy.” Such a detail is not told to us frivolously, and the implication is undeniable for Christians. The baby in the womb is a person — not just tissue.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Col. 1, Col. 2, Col. 3, Col. 4, Luke 1

 

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Be Not Ashamed – Mark 6-8

Continuing with our reading of Mark this week, we read in chapter 6 of Jesus being rejected in His home town and how Herod had John the baptist killed. He was afraid of him, but he had made an oath around witnesses to give Herodias’s daughter whatever she wished. To his dismay, she followed her mother’s wishes and asked for John’s head on a platter. Jesus then went on to feed the 5,000.

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In chapter 7, the Pharisees confront Him because his disciples did not follow the washing rituals they prescribed as though they were God’s laws. Jesus exposed them for their many hypocrisies, such as how they manipulate words and deeds to shirk their duty to take care of their parents.

In chapter 8, He feeds the 4,000 with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish– ending up with more food than they started with in the first place. In Dalmanutha, the Pharisees confronted Him again and demanded a sign from heaven. Jesus, of course, gave them none; and he even said that no sign would be given to “this generation.” God’s people were given all the signs they needed.

It was after this that Jesus told His disciples to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees and of Herod. As they wondered about bread, jesus became impatient with them. They still did not understand, it seems. But in verse 29, Peter did make it clear that he knew that Jesus was the Christ.

He finishes the chapter with a sermon to the crowds; and verse 39 says:

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Those words are easy to read, and they are just as easy for us to nod our heads and say “that’s right.” But we must beware living in an increasingly pagan land, as we do. How easy is it to keep our mouths shut, when perhaps we should be speaking up for the Lord?

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Jesus Preaching the Gospel – Luke 20

Luke chapter 20 opens with “One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel…” When most people think of “the gospel,” they think of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We think of Jesus as the Christ – of his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The term, as applied to Jesus’ preaching, is used elsewhere, such as in Matthew 9:35 and Mark 8:35.  So what gospel was Jesus preaching? It was the gospel of the kingdom. The Greek word for gospel from which this was derived is “euangellion,” which is best translated as “good news” or “glad tidings.” It was the good news of the kingdom of God that He had taught His disciples and sent them out to teach as well (Mt 4:23, Mk 1:14-15, Lk 9:1-2, and Lk 10:1-11). The “rest of the gospel” – the path of salvation was very much a work in progress. As Jesus said, the kingdom was at hand.

John the Baptist acclaims Jesus Christ. Part o...

John the Baptist acclaims Jesus Christ. Part of a 16th century polychrome sequence in Amiens cathedral. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus preached as one with authority (Matthew 7:29), and he had performed many “signs and wonders” – miracles. As chapter 19 closed, He had driven out those who sold within the temple right under the noses of the chief priests and scribes, further enraging them to the point that they wished to destroy Him (Luke 19:47). So they came up to Him with the elders, and said “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” It was more than just the equivalent of our phrase today “just who do you think you are?” They wanted Him to “convict” Himself by His own words – giving them ammunition for the destruction they sought for Him.

But it was not yet His time, so Jesus told them that He would answer only if they told Him by what authority John the baptist did his baptism – from heaven or from man. This put them in the horns of a dilemma. The people considered  – knew – John to be a prophet, and these men feared violence if they said it was only by man. But none of them had believed in John, and Jesus, they knew, would expose them as liars if they said they believed it was from heaven. So they simply said that they did not know. So Jesus told them that He would not answer their question either.

They had come to set a trap for Him with the most revered of witnesses, thinking to outsmart Him. But the tables had been turned on them once again; and you can be certain that their anger burned even hotter.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Children of Wisdom – Luke 7

As the news spread about the miracles Jesus had done, including the raising of the dead son of the widow of Nain, the disciples of John the baptist made these things known to him, while he was in prison. John sent two of them to Jesus to ask “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Obviously, the mention of “the one” refers to the Messiah. This seems strange to us, in light of the fact that before he was imprisoned, John already pointed Jesus out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

English: Infant Jesus and John the Baptist, Mu...

English: Infant Jesus and John the Baptist, Museo del Prado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But we must remember that John the baptist was just a man, and he had his own weaknesses and trials (particularly at this time, being in prison), and he would have his own struggles with faith. We know that at the time he was “preparing the way” for Jesus he was full of the Spirit. Clearly that was the case when he made that statement as he saw Jesus approach him. But now that he was in prison, he hears of the things that Jesus has done, and perhaps like many others, he was expecting a much different Messiah – one who would be a great leader and perhaps lead Israel to their former greatness as a power – and out from under the dominance of the roman Empire.

Verse 21 says that Jesus healed many of diseases and evil spirits, and restored sight to blind people in that very hour. We can presume that to mean that the disciples John sent were witnesses to these things. When Jesus told them in verses 22-23 to go tell John about the blind, the deaf, the lame, etc., He knew that John would recognize these prophesies from Isaiah 29:18. After they left, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John. John had fulfilled the scriptures concerning what he was purposed by God to do, and Jesus pointed this out very well. Noting that some were deceived by his simple dress and his life of austerity, Jesus proclaimed in verse 27 that John was indeed nonetheless the one spoken of in Malachi 3:1, as the messenger sent to prepare the way.

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One point that is easy to miss in all of this is the relationship in this passage between the expectation of the people toward the prophet and John’s own expectations about the Messiah. Jesus asked them what they expected to see when they went out in the wilderness, saying that “those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.” By the same token, Jesus came as the Messiah, doing exactly what the prophet Isaiah said He would do, but people often do not see what is important if they look the wrong way. And he continues to emphasize these points in verse 31-34, as he describes the fickleness of that generation. Also not to be missed here is the affirmation that by rejecting the baptism of John, the Pharisees and lawyers had rejected the counsel of God (verse 3).

What did Jesus mean when he said in verse 28 “yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (speaking of John)? I think this is simply a reference to the fact that he knew John would not live to be a part of the kingdom Jesus was establishing as His church. Almost certainly, John would have his place in heaven, but he would not be around to tell others of the good news of Jesus’ victory over death, and what it all means.

Finally, Jesus says that wisdom is justified by all her children.” Those who seek wisdom through the truth will find it. The point is made in Proverbs 8:34-36, speaking of wisdom in the first person:

“Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord,
but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.”

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Wheat and the Chaff

The baptisms performed by John the baptist, the truth in his preaching, and the authoritative warnings of the urgency of repentance were just some of the things that made the people who witnessed it all (and, no doubt, many who simply had heard about him) wonder if he was the Messiah that had been promised to come since the beginning (Genesis 3:15). Indeed, Luke 3:15 points out that many must have desperately wanted him to be “the one.” But verse 16 tells us how John answered that question:

“I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Winnowing grain by tossing it into the wind so the chaff will blow away

Winnowing grain by tossing it into the wind so the chaff will blow away

The concept of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is fairly straightforward to us as Christians – followers of Christ, who have been baptized with true repentance have had their lives changed, and can be guided by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But what is meant by the statement that He will baptize with fire? The answer can be found in the following verse:

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Rather than being something positive for Christ’s followers, the baptism by fire is the judgment for the unbelievers, with the unbelievers represented by “chaff” in that verse. Chaff is the dry, scaly, inedible casing of seed or grain. Before the invention of the threshing machine in the latter part of the 18th century, threshing was often done by placing the sheaves on the threshing floor and beating them or running over them. It was the most labor intensive part of the harvest. Afterward, the wheat would be separated by winnowing, often done with a winnowing fork by tossing the grain into the wind so that the chaff would be blown away. The chaff was often burned then to dispose of it.

The Baptism of Jesus

The Baptism of Jesus (Photo credit: Travis S.)

Luke then speaks in verse 18 of John’s distinction of being the first preacher of the “good news” of the kingdom of heaven – a very different sort of prophet from those who had come before him in the Old Testament. But not everyone was happy with the preaching of John the baptist (verse 19). Herod the Great’s son, Herod Antipas, had the title of “tetrarch,” which means “ruler of a quarter” (his father had divided Judea into districts, and he was given Galilee and Perea). He had divorced his first wife, and taken his brothers wife, Herodias. John’s condemnation of this and many evil acts done by the ruler resulted in Herod having him thrown in prison.

Verses 21-22 tell of Jesus submitting to the baptism, and of the sign of the Holy Spirit and God’s pleasure in His Son. Though these verses come after the verse about John’s imprisonment, one should not infer that Luke did not know of John’s role in Jesus’ baptism, as he acknowledges John’s role in Acts 1:22.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Preparing the Way

John the Baptist preaching repentance - polych...

John the Baptist preaching repentance – polychrome, Amiens cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If this writer kept a “top ten list” of the most important chapters of scripture in the Bible, Luke Chapter 3 would almost certainly be in that list, for reasons that will hopefully become apparent by the end of this blog. In verse 7, John the Baptist is speaking to the crowds that came out to be baptized. In Matthew chapter 3, we are told that Pharisees and Saduccees were among those who had come. The impression that is most natural to take away from John’s harsh-sounding words here are that they are meant for those two groups. But just as likely, they are aimed at any of those who had come without true repentance on their minds. That is what John had been preaching – a baptism of repentance.

Referring to them as a “brood of vipers,” the question he poses is “who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Judging from the verses that follow, it seems that what he meant was “where did you get the idea that you can avoid the wrath that is to come simply by baptism – that is, without repentance?” “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” means that they must not only repent, but they must show the change in their lives by how they live, and by how they treat others from this day forward. He then admonishes them not to have the idea in mind that because they are descendants of Abraham, they have nothing to fear. God, he tells them, can raise up children of Abraham from the stones present around them. In other words, it is not enough – God is not so impressed with their pedigree.

Jesus warned His disciples that the Temple would be completely destroyed. His prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. by the Roman general Titus (Matthew 24:1-2)

Jesus warned His disciples that the Temple would be completely destroyed. His prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. by the Roman general Titus (Matthew 24:1-2)

In verse 9, John tells them that already “the axe is laid to the root of the trees.” They do not know it, but the imminent destruction that this alludes to is the coming destruction that will result from the Jews’ rejection of Jesus. And “every tree,” he says, “that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So when the various people asked what they were to do, everything that he tells each of them in verses 10-14 has to do with a complete change in the way John knows (from the Spirit) that they are living – mostly how unjust they are to others, especially the poor and down-trodden. That part is the same story throughout the Old and New Testaments – God has always cared very deeply about how those two groups of people are treated.

All of these things together make up the crux of what John’s commission by God is all about, as far as “to prepare the way” is concerned. This is part of what makes this chapter of Luke one of the most important in the New Testament. There has been no word from God for 400 years – since Malachi foretold the coming of John the Baptist in Malachi 3:1 and 4:5. Now comes John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Although baptism in some form did exist before John the Baptist received his calling from God, it was not a baptism of repentance, nor was it for the forgiveness of sins. There was no real forgiveness of sins under the Law of Moses because, as Paul said, it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4). There was washing for purification, as first implemented with Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:4, Leviticus 16:23-24), and for remedy of defilement (Numbers 19). And at some point (though not Biblically required), baptism (immersion in water) was added to circumcision as a requirement for Gentile proselytes to be converted to Judaism.

But now it was different. John the Baptist did not come up with the idea of this baptism on his own. It was part of “the word” that came from God (Luke 3:2-3). John the Baptist “prepared the way” for Jesus in three important ways that we can clearly see: 1) by proclaiming and practicing the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3) 2) by proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven (and, necessarily, the Messiah’s arrival at last) was at hand (Matthew 3:2, Matthew 3:11-12), and 3) by clearly pointing his followers to Jesus as that long-awaited Messiah – the Son of God (John 1:29-34).

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Out of the Wilderness – John the Baptist

Luke chapter 3 opens with some information that allows for some dating – and some confusion. The subject of the first three verses is when it was that the word of God came to John the Baptist in the wilderness. Although there are a lot of names of historical figures mentioned, as well as their titles and domains, the most telling is in the first phrase of the opening verse.

English: "Saint John the Baptist" (c...

English: “Saint John the Baptist” (c.1560) by Joan de Joanes (1523-1579). Joan J. Gavara Collection (Valencia) Español: “San Juan Bautista” (c.1560) por Joan de Joanes (1523-1579). Colección Joan J. Gavara (Valencia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. He ascended to the throne as emperor on September 17, 14. A.D., with the Senate validating his position as “Princeps” – a title first given to his predecessor, Augustus – on September 18. So, depending on the literal meaning of “the fifteenth year,” it was likely between 28 and 29 A.D. Attempts at applying this to the date of the birth of Jesus, however, have generated less agreement. Forgetting the errors in the calendar, which is beyond the scope of this study, there are a number of scholars who believe that “reign” in this case may have been applied to Tiberius’ rule over other provinces as well – which may have begun about 11 A.D.  It all becomes much too overwhelming, and there is no real proof. It is sufficient to say that Jesus birth was not in the year “1” (there was no year “0”), and in any case, best estimates are that it was between 4-6 B.C, based on the death of Herod the great.

What does all of this have to do with the calling of John the Baptist from the wilderness by the Lord?  Not much really. The most important thing is told to us in verse 3 – that “he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” It is in this manner, as a result of his calling, that he “prepared the way” for Jesus. Verses 4-6 quote the prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 40:3-5:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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