Gospel Lesson for the Second Sunday of Advent: Luke 3:1-6
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler 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 region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one crying out 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 made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
I had an unsettling thought as I read this passage today. What if the mention of the politicians was to ground the baptism and proclamation of John the Baptist in the world? The expectations of Isaiah are wrong. The crooked world will not be made straight. Our insurmountable mountains will not be brought low, so we can traverse the paths. This is the end of those expectations.
What if it is a contrast to Jesus’s baptism and ministry? What if we have misunderstood what “the salvation of God” means? Jesus’ baptism will be from the perspective of heaven rather than from the powers and principalities of earth.
Emperor Tiberius will not be defeated; nor will he be transformed. We who are baptized will be born to new life in Christ. How we look at the world around us will be re-focused. Hills and twisted paths will no longer bother us nor keep us from living our lives.
A meaningful life of faith, in Jesus’ baptism, enables us to live with hope and peace no matter what difficulties cross our paths.
Peace to you, Keith