In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’ ”
Luke 3:1-6 NIV
We find here John preaching the coming of the Messiah at a very interesting time in history with the intersection of politics and religion. The message is clear, it is time for a Messiah.
Politically, Tiberius Ceasar, Pontius Pilate, and the three Tetrarchs were not nice people. A number of negative adjectives could probably accurately describe their individual character and policies, leaving the people searching for guidance. It was time for a Messiah.
On the church government side there were two persons serving as high priest when God intended that there should only be one high priest at a time. This tells us that the church at the time lost focus and operated with a spirit of division. It was time for a Messiah.
Fast forward to today and it is once again time for a Messiah. As I look at the world, I see a time when politicians misuse their power and the church misunderstands its purpose. Descent people are struggling to find a decent place to live, work and raise a family. Church is not a priority, yet our currency declares that it’s in God we trust. Are we truly one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for “all.” It's time for a Messiah.
Today as then, the message is the same; "Every valley", valleys of hopelessness and despair, "will be filled”—filled with hope and joy. "Every Mountain," mountains of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness, "will be made low.” “The crooked …” [crooks] “shall become straight” (straightened out). "The rough places," places where people have had a hard time, "will become smooth." People won't struggle always. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed. “And all people will see God’s salvation.”
Now more than ever, it’s time for a Messiah. It’s time for the expectant one. It’s time for the one who was born to us. It’s time for the one who was given to us. It’s time for the one who can shoulder the government. It’s time for the one who is, was, and shall always be, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. It’s time for The Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God and the reason for the season.
Charles Wesley said it best, “Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.”
Craig W. Douglass (MA, MSW '12) is ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church where he serves as presiding elder for the Western New York Conference. He also serves as a mobility counselor at Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a non-profit that works to ensure that all people in Western New York have fair and equal access to housing in their desired community.