The Preaching of John the Baptist // Ti Ebanghelio Lucas/Lk 3: 1-6
[Nabulod laeng ti ladawan a naaramat]
The Preaching of John the Baptist Ti Ebanghelio
Lucas/Lk 3: 1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. He went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
JOHN: THE VOICE IN THE DESERT Before the start of Jesus’ public ministry, there is the “Baptist’s movement” revolving around the person and ministry of Yehohanan (John), the son of the priest Zechariah. John appears in the region of the Jordan, calling people to repent and baptizing them in the Jordan River as sign of their repentance. Baptism appears as a unique activity of John, a prophetic sign so striking that he becomes known simply as Ha-Matevil, “the Baptizer.”
Though son of a priest, John is not trained for the priestly ministry in the Jerusalem Temple. He grows up in the desert, distancing himself from the luxury in which the Jerusalem priestly aristocracy lives. By his attire, diet, and preaching, John presents himself more as a prophet than as a priest. He shows himself as the embodiment of the fiery prophet Elijah.
In the Gospel, John is presented as “a voice of one crying out in the desert,” as described in the book of Isaiah (cf 40:3-5). The original oracle was addressed to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, and it spoke of a “second exodus,” of the Lord saving his people, leading them out of a foreign land. Luke now speaks of salvation brought about by Jesus; John is the voice announcing Jesus’ coming. The quotation from Isaiah is expanded to include “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke, who writes for the Gentiles, says that salvation is not for the Jews alone but for all peoples.
John is a “New Testament” figure that has attracted the attention of the Jewish historian Josephus. He describes John as a good man who commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as righteousness towards one another and as piety towards God. Many people came to him because they were greatly moved by his words.
The baptism of John is seen as a purification rite to prepare for the coming of Jesus. On this Second Sunday of Advent, his words resound to call us to make a straight path for Jesus, the Messiah and Lord.