Chapter 3 of Luke begins a description of Jesus’ public ministry, which probably began in AD 26 and extended until his death in AD 30. Jesus’ public ministry can be roughly divided into three one-year periods. In the first year, Jesus traveled mostly in Judea, proclaiming himself to be the Messiah and giving evidence for that claim. In the second year, Jesus traveled mostly in Galilee and enjoyed widespread public favor and popularity. In the third year, Jesus spent much time around Jerusalem and experienced increasing rejection and opposition.
Luke begins his account of Jesus’ public ministry with the work of John the Baptist. The last time we saw John, he was growing up in the wilderness, preparing for his manifestation to Israel (1:80). At the beginning of this section, John has become an adult and is the center of attention. But by the end of this passage, John is in prison, essentially off the stage and doomed to die. Jesus takes center stage by the end of the passage.