John the Baptist stayed for such a long time in the wilderness before he began his public ministry. During this time, John had spent time not for outward, but inward looking, so that both his outer and inner life grew in maturity.
To mention the emperor, Caesar, and the two governors, Pilate and Herod, was to say these rulers had imposed heavy burdens tax and harsh treatment, on the land they occupied. The mention of not one, but two high priests, indicated the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem was corrupted. They were influenced by the emperor and the governors, telling them how to run the Temple's affairs. They went too far, so that Jesus complained they had made God's house to be a market place. The high priest, Caiaphas, played a leading role in the plot to crucify Jesus.
'The word of God' came not to the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem, who were supposed to talk to God's people about 'the word of God'. No, none of these rulers received 'the word of God'. God's wisdom was revealed in a way that no one expected,
'The word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness' Luke 3,3.
God sent John, a voiceless, unknown man, who lived in the wilderness, to challenge the social structure set up by the unbeatable Roman Empire, and as well the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem. John called the crowds to look inwardly, to look into their personal spiritual wilderness which was deeply buried in their hearts. John told the crowds to change the dryness of their hearts, to return to Yahweh, and to discard the pagans' ways of life.
John would make his mission or he would break his heart, the rulers of the days would say. They were underestimate John's mission.
First, John began his public ministry fearlessly, believing he was not alone but 'the word of God' was with him in his mission.
Second, growing in spiritual maturity meant John was no longer content to live for himself but to live and die for God. He loved and trusted God in all things.
Third, John had God's message, calling people to repent, to return to God. Instead of seeing John as the visible sign of God's love, these rulers saw John as a threat to their authority and power. They were afraid of John, and wanted to remove that fear by force.
Employing the same images as, John talked to people about the improvement of their spirituality. The visible way, path, hill and mountain in Isaiah became the invisible way, path and mountain of a person's heart. John's message was clear, short, and sharp, straigth to the point. He proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John made clear to the crowds, that his baptism was only a visible sign of repentance, of returning to the Lord. John had no power to save. His mission was calling people to repent, to change their pagan way of life, returning to the way of God. John was only the messenger of God, not the Messiah. Jesus, the One who came after John, was the Saviour of the world.
That great crowds, as well as soldiers and tax collectors, came to John for baptism (Luke 3: 12-14) implied that wealth and power could not satisfy them. They were hungry for true spirituality, and they found it in John's preaching. Those who repented would 'See the salvation of God' v.6. It meant to recognize Jesus as their Messiah, the One John later confessed that 'I baptise you with water, but someone is coming........ He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire'. Luke 3, 16ff.
Lord, help us to confess you are our Saviour.