The Narrative Lectionary brings us to Luke 3:1-21 this week. Enjoy these visual notes and commentary.

Luke 3:1-2

Why does Luke give so much detail in this passage? It be a simple time stamp. However, it could also be a reminder of the type of oppression that the people of Israel were feeling. The hierarchy of power weighed heavy on them.

The emperor of Rome believed himself to be a Son of God who brought the Good News of peace to the earth. His peace came through military conflict and oppression.

Governor Pilate was placed in Judea to keep the peace, because the Jews were fomenting into rebellion. The region was a powder keg ready to explode. Eventually, Pilate would keep the peace by handing over an innocent man to die.

The Kings of Israel were nothing more than puppets of the Empire. They sought after their own glory more than the good of the people. These are children of Herod the Great, the one who slaughtered the children of Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

Why are there two high priests? Wasn’t there only supposed to be one at a time. “at any given time there could only be one high priest. Caiaphas held this office from 18 to 37 CE, but his father-in-law, Annas, who was high priest from 6 to 15 CE, continued to exert tremendous influence after leaving office (Chen, p. 48).”

These priests were kept in power by Roman authority.

Luke 3:3-20

The Word of God came upon John, not the High Priests. This repeats the patterns of the Hebrew prophets. The power structures have been corrupted and God must move outside of them in order to correct the path of the nation.

This is what Isaiah said in Isaiah 40:3-5.

Here is what I find interesting about this passage. It concludes with the phrase “with many other exhortations, [John] proclaimed the good news (euangelizo) to the people.” (Luke 3:18) What is the Good News–The Gospel–before Jesus even starts his public ministry?

John spells it out in how he responds to the crowds when they ask, “What should we do?”

he says:

  • To the wealthy: If you have abundance, share it with those who don’t
  • to the Tax Collector: be honest and fair in your accounting.
  • to the soldier: be satisfied with your wages, don’t use your power to extort people for money.

The Good News, according to John, is about truth and justice. Of course it is, because that’s what God’s Word, and God’s Kingdom, has always been about.

Jesus will now take the mantle and continue to proclaim this Good News.

This video compares Luke’s account of John the Baptist and Jesus’ baptism with Matthew’s account. The differences highlight the theological perspective of Luke’s Gospel.

Jesus is the Son of God, and comes from the royal line of David.

Here is the true king of Israel.

Luke 3:21

Here we have a beautiful snapshot of the Triune God. The creative voice speaks, the incarnate child receives, obeys, and fulfills, the Spirit abides and empowers.

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