Have you ever considered that we have been given a message that is meant to shake up the world, right to its every foundation? If you stop to consider the Gospel this week (Luke 3.1-6), that is what we are being set up for: a message that will shake the world awake and make its foundations quiver. But how does this happen?
First, let’s consider the context in which the message comes. The message comes to particular people at a particular moment in time, in particular place. Luke notes this for us: The Good News came to John, son of Zachariah (the priest), in the wilderness. But Luke goes further to show who the Message was going to affect, not just Tiberius Caesar – it was going to shake up the whole Roman world! From the person in the street to the fields, the angels of heaven to the local clergy, to the Herods (kings) and their tetrarchies; to the local Roman Governor and on to Roman and to Caesar himself.
If you want to think of it this way, here is what it might look like if Luke was writing to Theophilus in the here and now: “In the 69th year of the reign of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, when Justin was Prime Minister of Canada and Rachel was Premier of Alberta; when “the Donald” was President of the United States, and during the episcopacy of Fraser who is Bishop of Athabasca… the word of the Lord came to the servant of the Lord in the wilderness.”
What was the message that God sent to John to preach? God is coming to visit and redeem his people – all of them. God chose John To be the one who would preach the message to have the people ready for the Word incarnate – the living Word – who is Jesus. John became the forerunner of the Gospel, calling people to come to repentance and back to God. Such messengers are not sent to be famous, powerful and rich. God’s messengers come to God’s people because they are compelled to make an impact on the life of the communities to which they belong. They live and work to make an impact on the people around them for the sake of the kingdom that is to be revealed through divine fulfillment.
The Word comes to the one who is ready and prepared; who has dared to et out into the wilderness and remove all those things that would hinder hearing God’s still, small voice. Going out into the wilderness enables us to put aside our things and our schedules and programs and demands so that we can be with God and allow him to speak to and provide for us. Going out into the wilderness means that we are going to learn that we are not n charge and can stop acting like we are in control and playing God. The wilderness teaches us that we need to learn again to listen and lean upon God for us daily bread. It is crucial because God is coming near, and he will, in and through Christ, redeem his people.
If that is not enough to shake the world up, then I am not certain what will. In the meantime, we must work, pray and preach the message to make the Message heard.