The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen.
—Luke 3:2

In his book “The Purpose Driven Life,” Rick Warren says, “It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. … If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”

No one understood that truth any better than the character we will look at this week. He realized that the reason God had placed him on earth was not to accomplish his own success, to achieve his own goals, or to build his own reputation. His purpose in life was to point people to someone greater than he. And because of that he was called the greatest in the kingdom of God.

Luke’s account of the life of Christ begins with a miraculous birth. But it wasn’t the birth of Jesus. He begins with the birth of the one the Old Testament said would precede the Lord Jesus—the person who would announce His coming. His name was John the Baptist. The story of John’s birth to Elizabeth and Zacharias is told in Luke 1. Then Luke 2 tells about the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. Now, when we come to Luke 3, it has been 30 years since Jesus was born. Jesus is about to begin His public ministry. But before He does, Luke describes the ministry of John the Baptist, the one whose purpose was to point people to Jesus Christ.

“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness” (Luke 3:1-2). Boy, what a mouthful. Why does Luke give us all these names? Luke was a historian. He wanted to show that this was not some fable; this event actually happened in time and history. This was what was going on in the world at the time that the Word of God came to John.

But I think there is another reason that Luke gives us all this historical information. He is trying to show what was going on in the world at the time that John came. The world’s situation could not have been any darker. God had not spoken for 400 years. Everybody was lost without any kind of hope at all. Yet it was when the world seemed to be overrun with evil that the light of God’s message burst through the darkness with the message: now the Messiah is ready to come.

As Christians, we don’t have to react to world events the way other people do. In fact, it has always been the case that when world situations seem the darkest, Christians have the greatest opportunity to hold up the light of the gospel.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Prophet Who Lost His Head over Jesus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Rick Warren, “The Purpose Driven Life” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 17.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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