If we were telling our own story, grounding it in history, who would be the points of reference? The ones LK uses here to introduce JB's ministry are not a pretty lot. Pretty suspect, actually! Secular & religious. When I began my own formal 'ministry', I remember those who were the then equivalents of Tiberius, Pilate, Caiaphas, etc., well enough not to have any illusions about power brokers. They don't change their spots. Unless, that is, like many of those who flock to JB they have a change of heart in the direction of God. Which brings me to my own experience that repentance is not some one-off affair that I trade on, religiously, from then on, but an attitude I wear on my journey, as part of what Paul calls 'the whole armour of God'. Armour that's as often internal as worn on the outside! Being born into a priestly family, JB may well have been disillusioned enough with organized religion to set up in opposition out in his deserts. He really was in opposition. If you can repent & have your sins forgiven way out there by Jordan, who needs 'the blood of bulls & of goats' the control freaks in the Temple want you to buy! How far 'out there somewhere' are we prepared to risk going as God's faithful servants today?
In JB building on Isaiah LK shows us how we all need to move on from facts of history to what we do with history, how we live it out. IS, JB, & then Jesus himself expect us to live out our faith in the God of history, the One whose paths we are to 'make straight'.
What's on our list of paths that need to be made straight? Of valleys that need filling in? Mountains & hills that need to be brought low? What is crooked & needs to be made straight? Rough that needs to be smoothed? Try rephrasing the questions: Who are the paths & valleys & mountains & hills & crookedness & roughness that need to be made ready for God's coming? I'm sure I'm on that list somewhere! Especially when I pause to reflect that God comes in you & you & you & you....What if you find not something else, not someone else, but ME needing straightening, filling in, lowering, or smoothing cos I'm blocking your way to God & therefore God's way to you! That is, blocking God's Rule from happening right here & now, never mind there & then!
How concerned are we at this point in time that all human beings shall 'see the salvation of God'? Do we have any real understanding of what that means, let alone whether we want it to happen, not only for those in our church circles, but even those who don't come into any church circle? Don't come, don't want to come, don't see why they should come & let themselves be locked in behind the lines we draw in our churches, rule books, interpretations of God & God's Rule?
LK tells us JB has more to say about the application of Isaiah's &
his own approach to God next week. Jesus will have still more to say, better
still, show us, a few verses further still down the road.