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Sermon by the Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, "With Jesus."
As we learned back in Verse 3:1, Luke pinpoints the date of this event as "the fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius." Which would be 28-29 A.D. Which would make John and Jesus about 33. Which in their day was about the average life span of the poor. Which was about 80% of the population. And which were the people both John and Jesus belonged to. Jesus and John were not young men in the prime of their life. They were elders. And if they had not escaped the usual life of the poor, they also suffered from long hours of hard work, poor diets, and lack of sanitation.
Because of John's prophetic preaching and call for repentance (Luke 3:1-14), his public reputation had grown to the point that people were being filled with expectation and wondering if John might be the Messiah - the Anointed - the Christ - the one to fulfill the centuries old promise of God to King David that a descendant of David would reign over Israel for ever.
But the now adult John remains true to the mission for which he was conceived. (Luke 1:13-17 and Luke 1:76-77)
Verses 15 to 17. Somewhere back in the mists of my memory, someone said that John is our model. Like John, we too proclaim the good news to the people, we too point to Jesus and his ministry.
I also am reminded of Mr. Rogers whenever I read a separating-the-wheat-from-the-chaff passage. As Mr. Rogers often pointed out even people who are bad most of the time will be good some of the time; and those who are good most of the time will be bad some of the time.
So the wheat-chaff separation is not separating into two groups of "bad" persons and "good" persons. It is separating the good that is within each person from the bad that is within each person.