#DailyDevotion John You’ll Go Down In History
3 In the fifteenth year of the
reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pon tius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarc h of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, an d Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene ,2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the wor d of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness . 3 And he went into all the r egion around the Jordan, procl aiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Unlike some myths, the Christian message is grounded in history. It isn’t ‘Once upon a time’ or ‘deep in annals of history.’ The Gospels are marked with historical data only the most dogmatic atheist would try to deny. Pontius Pilat, Herod, Philip, and Lysanias are all known as historical figures. But even John and Jesus are both attested to outside of the Scriptures but never the less, the Gospels themselves are historical witnesses what happened at the beginning of what we would call the first century A.D..
Our creeds are likewise grounded in history as we confess Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Indeed Christians shouldn’t shy away from placing Jesus Christ and the events in his life smack dab in the midst of human history. There is constantly more and more evidence of historical events and historical people mentioned in the Bible as the Bible has given witnessed to. Nothing in archaeology has ever proven anything in the Bible to be false. It can only show it hasn’t been proven yet. But with all the people, events and places mentioned that have been proven, it is probably more cautious to assume them to be true and yet to be found. In fact it would be a good archaeological practice to search for when, where, and who if you had work to do.
So this historical person of John the Baptist came upon the scene in this time of history. He came or rather was sent to prepare the way of the LORD, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. His preparation was calling the Jewish people to repentance. While there were certainly many faithful Jewish people to the promises of God, there were many who were going through the motions, they were cultural Jews. Even many of the religious Jews got the Torah wrong and were thinking their works earned them or merited them salvation. As such their false faith caused them to produce false good works, for they were not worked by faith.
John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Now there were many different ceremonial washings in the Jewish culture. Most relevant was the baptism of converts to Judaism. But here John is calling the Jews to be baptized. Many of the religious were outraged. John was telling them their righteousness and their religious works were not enough. They could not count on their circumcision or their decent from Abraham for their salvation. They needed to be baptized. They needed to repent of their false faith. They needed forgiveness of sins. Here through repentance and baptism John was giving forgiveness of sins.
Now in the New Testament, Jesus has also come and proclaimed what John has proclaimed, a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, but with difference, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ baptism given in Matt. 28:19ff makes its receivers the temple of the Holy Spirit. They receive adoption of sons. And this baptism Jesus calls not only the Jews, but he calls all people, all ages, every language, race, tribe and nation to be joined with him in his cross and become children of God. He has called you to this as well.