At fifty-three, the last thing Sonia expected to do was abandon her business and her country to join a group of asylum seekers journeying to a new land. After gangs murdered her nephew and tried to force her seventeen-year-old son into their ranks, Sonia felt escape was her only option. “I pray to God. . . . I will do whatever is necessary,” Sonia explained. “I will do anything so [my son and I] don’t die of hunger. . . I prefer to see him suffer here than end up in a bag or canal.”
Does the Bible have anything to say to Sonia and her son—or to so many who have suffered injustice and devastation? When John the Baptist proclaimed the arrival of Jesus, he announced good news to Sonia, to us, to the world. “Prepare the way for the Lord,” John proclaimed (Luke 3:4). He insisted that when Jesus arrived, God would enact a powerful, comprehensive rescue. The biblical word for this rescue is salvation.
Salvation encompasses both the healing of our sinful hearts and—one day—the healing of all the world’s evils. God’s transforming work is for every story, every human system, and is available to everyone. “All people will see God’s salvation,” John said (v. 6).
Whatever evil we face, Christ’s cross and resurrection assure us we’ll see God’s salvation. One day we’ll experience His final liberation.
31In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.3He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.4As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
Where do you need to see God’s salvation in your life?
How has God called you to be part of His transforming work on earth?
Luke, the writer of the third gospel, has an impressive resume. His credits include theologian, physician(Colossians 4:14), researcher, and historian. His attention to historical detail appears early in the book (see Luke 1:3–5; 2:1–2). This pattern continues inLuke 3:1–2where he briefly notes the secular and religious ruling authorities during the ministry of John the Baptist. The Roman emperor Tiberius(ruled ad 14–37) was over the entire empire.
Pontius Pilate (in office ad 26–36) was a provincial ruler who governed in Judea. Three men (Herod [Antipas], Philip, and Lysanias) are said to be tetrarchs. Literally the word tetrarch means “ruler of a fourth,” but it actually referred to a “ruler of lower rank.” These subordinate leaders were over particular territories. Religious leaders—Annas and Caiaphas—also come into view (v. 2). Though Caiaphas actually held the office of high priest, clearly Annas shared the power of that office with him.