Luke 3:1-9
   Advent begins with a call for preparation often connected with John the Baptist.  Luke dates John the Baptist's ministry beginning during the 15th year of Emperor Tiberius which would be between 28-29 A.D and Pilate as governor (27-36/37).  John the Baptist was descended from Zechariah and Elizabeth who were from the priestly family of Aaron.  While part of the priesthood is to declare ritual cleanliness, this was always within the context of the Temple.  John, however, was calling for repentance and performing the 'mikveh' or ritual cleansing in the Jordan river.  In this same area, near the Dead Sea, was a religious group known as the Essenes who rejected the Temple because they viewed it as being corrupt.  The Essenes were focused on purification in preparation for the final battle between good and evil.  The influence of the Essenes may explain why John was in the Jordan region rather than taking his family's place at the Temple.  Another reason may be the symbolism of the Jordan area as the entry point into the promise land.  This symbolic point would refer both to the entry by the freed slaves of Egypt as well as the route known as the "Kings Highway" taken by the returning exiles from Babylon.  This route is referred to by Isaiah as the "way of the Lord".  By calling people to repent and be baptized, John was calling the people to remember their covenant and enter into the promise land with a renewed sense of dedication.  This renewal of dedication is what the season of Advent still calls to us as we prepare the way.

 

Luke 3:8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. 
   Is verbal repentance enough?
   Do your actions reflect a change in your life? 
   What habits do you need to let go of?
   Do you daily choose God's will and not your own?
   What do you need to do in order to prepare the way of the Lord?