Luke 3:1-6

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

This story has basically two voices. One is the voice of the storyteller as a historian describing the political context of the ministry of John the Baptist. The second is the voice of Isaiah who wrote these words some 600-800 years before John the Baptist whose prophecy is being fulfilled in John's ministry. Thus, it may be a good idea in the telling of the story to distinguish the voices of the storyteller-historian Luke, who is speaking directly to the audience as his listeners, and of Isaiah speaking to the community of Israel in a much earlier period but also now speaking through the storyteller to the people of the late first century.

This story is the introduction of John the Baptist in Luke. It is the culmination of the hopes of the people of Israel for a prophet who will announce and establish the kingdom of God. John's presence and proclamation are good news about the coming of the Kingdom of God. His vision is a great and broad road that will provide a clear path for the forces of the kingdom of God to establish power. The vision of this road is that the torturous paths will be made straight and the valleys will be filled and every mountain and hill made low. The vision is a Roman road or in our time a big railroad track where everything is leveled. Isaiah's vision is of a broad road carved through the wilderness on which the forces of God would be able to establish the kingdom of God by traveling down this great road. It is not coincidence that this vision follows the list of all the politicians who will need to be dealt with by the government of God in order to establish a new period of history and a new kingdom. All of the great empires of the ancient world built great roads, supremely the Romans.

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