In the fifteenth year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius - it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee; his brother Philip, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, ruler of Abilene;
during the Chief-Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas - John, Zachariah's son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God.
He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins,
as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet: Thunder in the desert! "Prepare God's arrival! Make the road smooth and straight!
Every ditch will be filled in, Every bump smoothed out, The detours straightened out, All the ruts paved over.
Everyone will be there to see The parade of God's salvation."
When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: "Brood of snakes! What do you think you're doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God's judgment?
It's your life that must change, not your skin. And don't think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as 'father.' Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there - children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants.
What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it's deadwood, it goes on the fire."
The crowd asked him, "Then what are we supposed to do?"
"If you have two coats, give one away," he said. "Do the same with your food."
Tax men also came to be baptized and said, "Teacher, what should we do?"
He told them, "No more extortion - collect only what is required by law."
Soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He told them, "No shakedowns, no blackmail - and be content with your rations."
The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, "Could this John be the Messiah?"
But John intervened: "I'm baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.
He's going to clean house - make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned."
There was a lot more of this - words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message!
But Herod, the ruler, stung by John's rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife,
capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail.
After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up
and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life." Son of Adam, Son of God
When Jesus entered public life he was about thirty years old, the son (in public perception) of Joseph, who was - son of Heli,
son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai,
son of Joseph, son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai,
son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda,
son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Neri,
son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er,
son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi,
son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim,
son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David,
son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Sala, son of Nahshon,
son of Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni, son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah,
son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor,
son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah,
son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech,
son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleel, son of Cainan,
son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)