Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The story of John the Baptist and Jesus in Luke begins at 3:1 and includes the baptism of Jesus. The story has been fragmented in the lectionary into three little pieces and this is the last of those pieces. This treatment of John in the lectionary at its worst: a radical deconstruction of Luke's story so that it can be theologically interpreted. It literally destroys the story that Luke created. I strongly urge you to tell the whole story, Luke 3:1-22. It's not that long and it's a very interesting and compelling story. For each of these weeks in the lectionary when the story of John the Baptist is identified as the story of the week, I'd suggest you tell the whole thing.

The logic of the story is that John the Baptist is the one who establishes the foundation for Jesus' ministry and proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God. He proclaims it both in word and in his sacrament of baptism. The tradition of Jesus has adopted John's sacrament of baptism as a central sacrament for the religion. Thus, what John the Baptist established has been continued throughout the last 2000 years in the sacrament of baptism.

John's preaching is followed by his arrest by Herod (Luke 3:18-20). Luke does not tell the story of John's execution as do Mark and Matthew. Therefore, this is, on the one hand, Luke's acknowledgment of John's death, although it is only implied by his being arrested and thrown into prison by Herod. On the other hand, it is also a telling of the whole story of John the Baptist: his preaching, baptizing, and arrest after his condemnation of Herod Antipas for his marriage to Herodias, his brother's wife.

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