WHO IS JESUS?
Lord, we are fully persuaded that You are the Messiah, the Lamb of God.
Read LUKE 3:1–20
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”[a]
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[b] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
a Luke 3:6 Isaiah 40:3-5
b Luke 3:16 Or in
c Luke 3:16 Or in
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lord, as we embark on this journey with You through Your Galilee, help us to see Your people through Your eyes and to learn what it is to follow You.
Luke, an investigative reporter, carefully places John in a real place and time. A writer for the Gentiles, like Mark, could not presume that his readers know who John is (Mark 1:4,9). Luke needs to prove that John and ultimately Jesus are real, historical people. John the Baptist has lived under the old covenant. Jesus calls him the greatest prophet because he is the one who has heralded the arrival of Messiah (Matt. 11:14), the prophet who can see the One whom the Hebrew Scriptures foretold—the One who embodies the goal of its proclamation, the fulﬁllment of its prophecies, and the longing of its poetry.
John does not understand the new covenant. He is not calling people to faith in Jesus. Rather, he is calling them to obedience and repentance, the two most crucial requirements of the old covenant in preparation for the coming Messiah. We too are called to repent and obey, but we know what John does not fully know, the answer to the question which haunts him in Herod’s dark dungeon (Luke 7:19). We know who Jesus was: the Messiah, the culmination of the old covenant of Law. We know that in the new covenant of grace our sins are forgiven through the sacriﬁcial death of John’s Messiah.
John has lived to see the Messiah with his own eyes, but he still dies under the old covenant. Herod should place himself under the Law but his whole incestuous family flagrantly breaks it. He has married his niece Herodias, who has previously been married to his brother Philip. John will soon die a humiliating death in some dungeon defending the old covenant to which he has devoted his whole life and being.
“Then cleansed be every heart from sin. / Make straight the way for God within. / Prepare we in our hearts a home, where such a mighty guest may come” (Charles Coffin, 1676–1749).
Lord, as John recommends, we have repented of our sins and now stand as the wheat which will be gathered into Your barn in due time.
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