“In the fifteenth year of the reign of emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip was ruler of the Ituraea and Traconitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, and during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah – in the wilderness.”
There was Tiberius – the leader of the Roman Empire, the commander of the majority of the known world, and an all-around big-wig often prayed to as a god….And then there is Pontius Pilate. Governor of Judea, the one who rules the land with an iron fist and military might. Pilate is in charge and he is considered a great….Then there is Herod, ruler of Galilee, often referenced as King Herod. Also a pretty important dude, lots of power, etc. There’s his brother Phillip, also a really powerful sort of dude, leader of roman power and might – lots of power in Ituraea and Trachonitis, yadda yadda yadda. There’s Lysanias, ruler of Abilene, powerful, roman, you get the picture…
Then there is Annas and Caiphas, the great high priest and former high priest of the time, revered and respected as the religious elites. They control the temple, and therefore they must control God. They are to be feared, and admired. They too are powerful.
And then there is John, son of Zechariah –And who in all of tarnation is John.
…I mean, we may know John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus Christ from being in Christian circles, but to the rest of the world, particularly the Romans, he is a nobody, unimportant, not even a small fry but a no fry. He’s no powerful king, or ruler, or emperor. Nor is his daddy. That’s like saying the word of God came to Tim, son of Bob.
Great, who is Tim, and why did Bob have him?
And then to really highlight his insignificance, he is from nowhere, aka the wilderness. John doesn’t even have a town to his name… he’s not even the Major of Avoca! J He’s literally living in the sticks. And yet, amidst all these important people, and all these big names, and all these high positons of power, the Word of God, comes to him – John, son of Zach. God uses him to herald Jesus’ coming into the world. Backwoods, vagrant John, tells the world the news for which they have waited since time began.
And so if you ever feel you are two small for God to work with, know that God has a history of using those others considered insignificant: Mary, Elizabeth, Zach’s son John, and Joseph. All are people the world over looked but in whom God saw faithfulness, great potential, and the heart to carry it through. This Advent season is full of folks like that – and maybe God is working great things in you too – even if others have overlooked it!