Early in Luke’s gospel, he details the rise of John the Baptist’s public ministry. His third chapter begins by rooting John in time by surrounding him with the “vital statistics” of his day:
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Most of these names mean little to today’s reader; most of these places are unknown. But in John’s (and Jesus’) day, these were the high rollers in the power centers. These were the…
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