“the word of God came to John.” Luke 3:1-2 could be taken as a simple chronological reference, that John started to minister when Tiberius was emperor, Pontius Pilate was governor, Herod Antipas, Philip, and Lysanias were tetrarchs, and Annas and Caiaphas were sharing the power of the High Priesthood. However, there is quite likely a deeper meaning as well. The above-mentioned men were the world’s power structure over the people of God in the tribal area of Israel that God gave to Israel in Joshua’s time. As we know from history, those top men were interested in themselves and their own power and prestige, and knew or cared little about God and the things of God. That, however, did not keep God from working powerfully. God works in spite of the world’s unhelpfulness. God’s word came to John, who began to rock the Jewish world from the inside out, and only months later it would come to the Messiah himself, who would change the world.
Too often Christians are daunted or stymied by the fact that there does not seem to be enough power, money, influence, or “press,” to get the work of the Lord done. But that is an illusion and a lie. Jesus showed us the power of weakness by dying on the cross, which seemed like such a huge defeat but was the world’s greatest victory. Then, some years later, Jesus had to remind Paul that his strength was made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). God’s victory is not over territory or over unwilling souls, but is won person by person, bit by bit, as people turn to Him and love, worship, and obey Him. God has an army of people on earth who are His fellow-workers. That army needs to see through God’s eyes, that the little things that win the hearts and souls of people and turn them from darkness to light are what really matters to God. Little things that often don’t seem to make a big impact, like being faithful in prayer, faithful to stand up and speak up for what is right and righteous, and faithful to be witnesses of what God has done in one’s life; these things are huge to God, and still rock the world in spite of the evil power structure that is in place.