Who you following? Luke 3:1-13
1. Then and now.
2. Pointing people!
3. Viper, Fruit or Rock?
4. What to do?
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 [a]while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
The detail of the good doctor lets us know exactly who were the real leaders and those leaders were mostly awful.
This Caesar invoked the games that we know that many Christians ended up dying. Pontius palate, well you know he tried to wash the blood off his hands by letting the Jews know he was not guilty of the death of Jesus Christ. Herod, well he was not a great guy. Phillip was an immoral leader. Caiaphas was responsible for illegally bringing Jesus to trial in the middle of the night.
The opening verses of the chapter tell us the names of some who were rulers and governors in the earth, when the ministry of John the Baptist began. It is a boring list, and full of instruction. There is hardly a name in it which is not infamous for wickedness. Tiberius, and Pontius Pilate, and Herod, and his brother, and Annas, and Caiaphas, were men of whom we know little or nothing but evil. The earth seemed to be given into the hands of the wicked men. When such were the rulers, what must the people have been? Such was the state of things when Christ's forerunner was commissioned to begin preaching. Such were the times when the first foundation of Christ's church was brought out. We may truly say that God's ways are not our ways. It could be said today, ‘such a time like this”
1. Then and Now
The times of leadership being not the best are right in front of us. It’s not different then as it is now. People will be struggling with their leaders just as they are now. Everyone will have an opinion and everyone will lead into thoughts and discussions on how bad and or good someone is doing in leadership. If I think for one minute that even the people who consider ReFresh their home would not think less of me or my leadership, I would be lying to myself. I am not opening myself to critique, but I realize as long as I live that people will continue to have critiques. It’s real, I have even done it myself, critiquing my own message or the lack of quality video to promote the Lord’s message He gave me. I would imagine that people and the leaders of that time compare and share. We all do it. It doesn’t make it Godly or correct at all. We like to call it Holy Gossip here at ReFresh. We want to be able to say things that build one another up. The focus is always Jesus. How would he handle this topic? What we want me to do? Then and now is focus of how I show myself if I have grown in my life. Do I still get mad over the same stuff then as I do now? Do I get mad at leaders on TV as I did in the past as I do now? I could go on and on about this, but let’s corral the horses, lets’ rodeo them up and start asking the then and now questions in our lives. It’s better to confront yourself then for you to be confronted by a negative nelly. Don’t you want to be a Positive Polley?
3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”
2. Pointing people
So now we see the launching of the greatest ministry save the ministry of Jesus. This life cause is now in full effect during the time of great disarray and awful people leading. Most likely awful people were around in general. It begs the question of our life. Are you a John the Baptist? John’s ministry was so needed at this time. His job however was to point people to Jesus. Pointing people to Christ is our life’s goal. What are you saying Pastor Donnie? Thank you for asking. I am navigating the real truth that we as Christians struggle with all of our days. We don’t point ourselves or each other to Jesus as much as we should. We all struggle with it. As a Christians we know that we have the peace that passes all understanding, but do we live in it? We know that we have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead however we don’t live like it. Here’s the concept of pointing people. I don’t really know how J the B got people baptized on the basis of the remission of sins. But I would venture to say that he was a good communicator, His words had power to help people see the sin in their own life. People were ripe at that time to hear and see the need for their sins to be forgiven.
One commentator notes this and this is worth sharing:
What was John the Baptist promising his followers when he baptized them? John the Baptist was the forerunner of our Lord. As the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets, he was announcing that the Messiah promised in the Old Testament was soon coming. Until Jesus’ baptism, he did not know for certain that, indeed, Jesus was this Messiah. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, an acknowledgement of sin, and of the need for the forgiveness of sins which Messiah (the “Lamb of God”) would bring about. The baptism was the symbol of their acknowledgement of sin, and of their need for a Savior. It was a preparatory baptism, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him Who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”) it did not preclude the need for “believer’s baptism,” once they had come to faith in Jesus as that promised Messiah. This is why the church baptized new believers, and why believers today should be baptized as well.
As we understand the mission. I love the words quoted by Luke that came from the book of Isaiah.
Don’t forget this magnificent truth.
As it is written ("as it stands written") in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet - Written is in the perfect tense which means it has been written at some time in the past (700 years earlier) and remains in effect or valid. The Word of God stands written. Jesus affirmed the permanence of the Word of God declaring "“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Lastly one commentator notes the following about crying out in the wilderness and Its worthy of pilfering;
THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT -John the Baptist was the voice who fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy recorded almost 700 years earlier, a fact that would serve to authenticate to the Jews (at least those who knew Isaiah's prophecy) that John the Baptist was indeed a prophet sent from God. John fulfilled it for example by spending most of his life in the wilderness, Luke recording that John "continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts (wilderness) until the day of his public appearance to Israel." (Lk 1:80+) His cry of "Make ready the way of the Lord," was a picture of what happened when ancient kings would visit a region. Before they would arrive the roads were cleared of debris and other hazards. John's cry was not for the Jews to make literal paths smooth and straight but a cry for the people of Israel to prepare their hearts for the coming of their Messiah. NET Note adds that this is "probably an allusion to preparation through repentance as the verb (make = poise) reappears in Lk 3:8, 10, 11, 12, 14.". this goes back to our point. During our time of life in the midst of this virus. Where are we pointing people?
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood[b] of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
3. Viper, Fruit or Rock.
What a loving message to launch out in the ocean of souls who need saving that only comes from Jesus. Viper, then he calls them a Brood of Vipers. Many believe he is calling out the religious sects of the day. They are generations of people who are in the law and don’t have a real understanding of God and who He is. It’s a super strong word. Sometimes strong words are needed and not the honey coated truth to get people to see the need for hearts to be changed. It’s a real thing in the hearts of many who follow religiosity. I know that everyone is learning during this time. We are having to deal with a Viper of technology. Technology could be a brood of vipers. Trust me, you’re smart enough to learn new stuff and grow during this time my friends.
Fruits of repentance, another kind and light-hearted antidote is given by John the Baptist here. He’s giving them a real jab to the jaw here. He’s not letting his words go back to the law of Abraham. He’s telling them nope; you’re not going to say you’regreat because of who you are and because of your lineage and or your people group. I have seen many cultures today that take great pride in marrying within their family line and even saying that one culture is supreme over another. You know that’s not true, right? There is no one supreme culture. If this were true then the White Arian Nazi race of Hitler would be supreme or the Greek Empire would have it or the Romans would claim all this. There is no one culture of family lineage that leads that is better than any other people. Hey I take pride in being a Citizen of the United States of America. I have been all over the world and I have seen many places and many areas, and for me, I love the United States and I am thankful for it. However, my greatest conviction is that I am a Christian. I am a follower of Christ. Do you have that same outlook, or do you blend your theology with your culture?
The picture above is a scale
So, in the picture of scales imagine the "weight" of your Repentance on one pan, perfectly balanced by the "weight" of the fruit your repentance produces.
There are some who teach that repentance is only a change of mind. The problem with this definition is that has nothing to do with one’s real attitude toward sin and does not necessarily result in any change in lifestyle. Think about it and you weigh it out yourself
During these days of what or who we are, it’s great to know that we are in the Family of Jesus. After all, Jesus says that he could raise up children from rocks?
What does that mean Jesus? Really, I’m glad you asked.
One commentator has an interesting take on these stones - John is probably referring to “these stones” of Josh. 4, where twelve stones were placed by the Jordan River as a symbol of God’s deliverance of the twelve tribes of Israel: “ ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan …’ And these twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan River, Joshua set up in Gilgal, and he said to the people of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, “What do these stones mean?” then you shall let your children know, “Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground” ’ ” (Josh. 4:2, 20–22). This stone symbolism 1 Kings 18:31–32) “And Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.’ So, with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD …”
John the Baptist is going right to a submission hold and getting a tap out if you will, MMA style on their religion and their take on being the chosen children. The special kids, if you will of God kingdom.
Many of the people believed they were acceptable to God simply because they were Jews, that is, because they were children of Abraham and of godly forefathers. Many felt acceptable to God because they had undergone a religious ritual, that of circumcision. They felt the righteousness of their fathers had saved them. How they lived mattered little. They were saved because they were special enough to be acceptable to God. Most people are prideful. They feel they are special enough to be acceptable to God, that God would never reject them. Maybe this is a good time to check and see if we may have any Jewish theology in our own hearts. Some could think they are accepted because they;
• have godly parents.
• have been baptized.
• are not too bad
• are good enough…
• are blessed with so much.
• are somewhat religious
• are members of a church.
• are regular worshippers.
Spiritual litmus test. Look I have seen this personally in ways that I was shocked. It was real.
We believe in
proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
And don’t forget the
Ephesians 6:4-And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
It’s important not only to quote these verses but live them out. Someone who can define love and SHOW how to love. Explain to the kids why we don’t or what we don’t do, not because we are better but because… well maybe some of us had issues in the past with things that we need to stay away from and it leads us down paths we should not go down. Be real in the training and don’t be parents who just get to a point of telling your kids, because I said so.
10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”
12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”
4. What shall we do?
As we see in verse 11 Jesus is about giving and teaching us how to give. Food and clothes are a big deal to Jesus. Coby and I have been praying about doing a canned food drive especially during times like this. Do you see how Jesus tells how to give? If you have 2, give one. This is a rough concept for me sometimes. I like inventory, my background has always led me to think in at least a month’s worth of whatever we need. My wife would be content if there was just enough. During this season however, my stocking up has come in handy. But do you really need more than one? That is the supposed question at this time.
So, we must ask, Are we generous with our possessions? Do we share our homes, our cars, our clothing, our food with others—joyfully? Or do we loathe to share? Do we always push for more and then grasp it tightly?
Do we enjoy giving to family, friends, and, more significantly, those in need? Do we give regularly and sacrificially to the Lord? If you are a Christian but do not give regularly to the Lord, if you are tight, if you find it difficult to give to God, you are in spiritual trouble! We must each do regular self-checks, including me!
The next group of folks are the tax collectors. Tax collectors are not the most welcomed people. They held the rights of the legal system. The police at that time helped to force people to pay if they would not cooperate. They paid the government and then kept the rest. Straight out extorsion is the manifestation of the time. Mafia style is what I call it. Could you imagine being called out like this. Think with me, guilted with life, knowing that they are now confronted with choices to do better and the first thing God goes after is what you have and how you get money. Real issues. This time with which we live is very similar. We are in a time, when many people can’t go to work. Many people are working from home. Many people are working remotely. Social gatherings are limited; people are told not to gather.
Elbow touching and the like. Do we see then and still see the hoarding that ishappening? Collect no more than what I needed. Wow, people have been doing so much more than that. It’s “you first after me” mentality. Coby and I were working out in the field this week and we went to a grocery store that had a Starbucks in it. The store was guarded by police and was not going to let anyone in who was not at least 60 years old. I told them I was 10 years younger and only wanted Starbucks, they were okay with it. It was crazy. The reason why they were only letting in older people is because they cleaned everything the night before and they wanted to let the older people get stuff because it was clean and the older people have not been hoarding.
Coby and I have been eating in a lot more. Playing more things at home and doing a ton more projects. It’s been rather Refreshing!
This is all just fear and uncertainty being lived out in current worlds. But guess what? We have been given the truth not only by John the Baptist but by Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit empowers us and gives us hope to process all this madness and be okay with only getting what we need
Do you need Jesus in your life? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org