Luke announces the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry within the context of who is in charge officially. He names Tiberius Caesar along with more local rulers like Herod and Pilate. All were men with great power over the people they ruled. They decided on most matters of daily life and had the power to decide who lived and who died. Rome was powerful and kept a tight leash on its subjects. Within this system the Jewish religious leaders – Annas and Caiaphas – had some limited power. It was far less power than the Roman rulers, but far more than the common people of Israel.
Into this context of political and religious leaders who love pomp and circumstance, who love to appear large and in charge, steps John. He was humble and dressed in the simplest of clothing. Instead of palaces and villas, he lived in the desert. Instead of fine food and other luxuries, he ate wild locusts and honey. After looking at the leaders on big thrones and in fine attire, many ust of looked at John and said, “Huh?” The authorities must have really wondered about leaving the fine trappings of their courts and heading out into the wilderness to listen to this peasant.
But wouldn’t we say the same thing if John were to appear in our town? In my town he would live along the creek and take shleter under a bridge or he would live up in the low hills on the edge of town and sleep in a tent or lean-to. After a few days of John living this way, maybe more than a few of us would rather not be too near him. We are used to our important information coming from men and women in nice clothes or in black robes. But they are not the only sources.
We must be open to God’s word coming from any source. He has picked some surprising people and will continue to do so. From the elderly to the child, from the suit to the rags, God can and will use anyone to bring His message to us. He could even use you or me. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear all that God desires us to see and hear, no matter the messanger.
Scripture reference: Luke 3: 1-2