Prepare to listen. Light the 2nd purple candle. Be still and pray, Guide my feet today into the way of peace. (From Luke 1:79)
Read: Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler 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 region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; 6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”’
Luke begins the story with the names of six hot-shot Roman political rulers and two Jewish religious rulers. These are men (they were all males) with credentials and standing in the community and their world; the sort people listened to. It would have been a good idea to send one of them to introduce the person who’d change the course of human history forever—Jesus. We might also expect God to send one of those two religious heavy weights to speak God’s word. But no, this isn’t God’s way. Instead, the word of God came to a ninth name, ‘John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.’ He was an unknown nobody, son of a nobody, living in no-man’s land. The drama of Luke’s presentation of John is wonderful, possessing a touch of humor. Read the first two verses aloud and enjoy Luke’s humor. God bypasses all the big-shots of the world Jesus was born into and chose instead John, son of Zechariah. What a delightful joke!
As always, God’s ways turn our respected and expected norms upside down. It presents us with a two-fold challenge this Advent. First, if you think God could never use you because you’re a ‘nobody,’ forget it. God delights in using nobodies to do his business. Second, if you tend to follow people because of their important status, either in politics or religion, forget that as well. Instead, pay attention to a seeming nobody. Maybe she or he, old or young, friend or stranger, will come with God’s message for you today, if you will listen in humility.
What message does God ask you to proclaim today and to whom?
What message are the seeming nobodies sending you today?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Forgive me, Lord for my tendency to listen only to people who appear to be important. Help me today to listen well and hear your message from whomever it comes. Forgive me for thinking I’m unfit to be your messenger and give me courage to be your voice in my part of the world. For the sake of your Name, Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world where God delights in sending nobodies to do God’s work.