The saving purposes of God continue to be worked out by way of real events in real time and space. Luke situates John, the herald of the Lord, in the real world. After the silence of centuries, and the whisper of the incarnation narrative, now at last comes the prophetic voice, the one who prepares the way of the Lord.
He identifies Johnâ€™s moment, the environment into which John comes, the stage on to which John steps as the man of God who receives the Word of God.
He summarises Johnâ€™s message - a call to a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, a ceremonial washing that testifies to a turning away from sin and the divine grant of forgiveness.
He explains Johnâ€™s ministry: quoting from Isaiah 40, he identifies John as the voice in the wilderness who prepares the way of the Lord, the road in the desert that John is the means of making, and the promise to the world for which John is the announcer.
There are several elements of Johnâ€™s ministry which are distinctive, and which belong to that particularly moment and message, but there are also some profitable parallels which we do well to consider for the church today.