Tiberius Caesar had been ruling for 15 years. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Herod was the ruler of Galilee. His brother Philip was the ruler of Iturea and Traconitis. Lysanias was ruler of Abilene.
Annas and Caiaphas were high priests. At that time God's word came to John, son of Zechariah, in the desert.
He went into all the countryside around the Jordan River. There he preached that people should be baptized and turn away from their sins. Then God would forgive them.
Here is what is written in the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. It says, "A messenger is calling out in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him.
Every valley will be filled in. Every mountain and hill will be made level. The crooked roads will become straight. The rough ways will become smooth.
And everyone will see God's salvation.' " #1(Isaiah 40:3-5)#2
John spoke to the crowds coming to be baptized by him. He said, "You are like a nest of poisonous snakes! Who warned you to escape the coming of God's anger?
Produce fruit that shows you have turned away from your sins. And don't start saying to yourselves, 'Abraham is our father.' I tell you, God can raise up children for Abraham even from these stones.
The ax is already lying at the roots of the trees. All the trees that don't produce good fruit will be cut down. They will be thrown into the fire."
"Then what should we do?" the crowd asked.