Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Luke 3:1-21

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“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 shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 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 you are authorized to do.”14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with 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 the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened.

The Original Intent

1) Who is John in relation to Jesus?

John was the cousin of Jesus. When recalling the lineage of Jesus one must venture through the first chapter of Luke to see that Mary, Jesus’ mother, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also pregnant at the time.

The baby in her stomach was John. He leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary, carrying Jesus in her stomach, entered the room.

The Everyday Application

1) Who is John in relation to Jesus?

I think it is easy for us to read genealogy verses in the Bible and shut down because it seems boring or useless information. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In this case, we see John prophesied about, and when he comes on the scene, even in the womb, he recognizes and reacts to Jesus in ways no one else did.

The Original Intent

2) What is the intent of John’s message when he speaks of trees that do not bear fruit being cut down?

Jesus changed everything! John’s message was directed at those who claimed, “We have Abraham as our father” thinking they were “good enough” before the God.

The direct audience would have been the Israelite nation. They expected that following the religious law of the day would put them in right standing before a righteous and holy God.

John, in preparing the way for Jesus to come, began to preach a different message to the Jewish people as well as anyone who would listen outside of the Jewish realm. John’s message, inspired by the Holy Spirit, forced the Jewish nation to realize that God cared more about the spiritual condition of their heart than all of their laws.

The Everyday Application

2) What is the intent of John’s message when he speaks of trees that do not bear fruit being cut down?

It is an important message then and now. God desires those who wholeheartedly desire to be in His presence and out of complete dependence on Him live their life.

John’s message reminds us, compels us, to look beyond the everyday and seek God first so as to be right before Him. In the pruning of our life, God makes disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Original Intent

3) Why does Luke specifically mention tax col lectors and soldiers as part of the group that came to be baptized?

The Jewish people were governed by Roman rulers. The tax collectors, although Jewish, were paid by the Roman government so they were not seen in a favorable light. The reality for most tax collectors is they cheated the Jewish people out of money by taxing them beyond what they owed in order to pad their own pockets.

In the same vein, Roman soldiers were considered the same, employers of the Roman government. Jewish people didn’t want anything to do with them, but John wanted his audience to know that Jesus was for everyone.

The Everyday Application

3) Why does Luke specifically mention tax col lectors and soldiers as part of the group that came to be baptized?

Come all! Scripture does not say come some or come those who have it together. Come those who understand or come those who have it figured it out. It simply says come!

Tax collectors, soldiers, prostitutes, lepers…the outcast, unseen, and hated in the 1st century…these are just a few of the people groups that Jesus kept company with during His three-year ministry. The people He extended the grace of the gospel to were all peoples

Jesus tore down borders as He preached and reached with the gospel! I can come to Him, knowing full well that Jesus doesn’t need me, He wants me. He extends His gospel far and wide that all may believe and be baptized!

The Original Intent

4) Why was it important to John that people knew he was not the Messiah?

As far back as the prophets of the Old Testament, John was prophesied about as the one who would be the forerunner of Jesus. When the time came for that to happen, John was very clear in his message that he was not the Messiah. The Jewish people of the day were looking for the coming Messiah to save them.

When John began preaching and prophesying, the natural assumption would have been that he could be the Messiah. John states, “I baptize you with water, but He who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John was always pointing towards Christ and His divinity.

The Everyday Application

4) Why was it important to John that people knew he was not the Messiah?

God uses us to proclaim His message. Just as He used John to be the forerunner for His son, there are times we need to keep perspective that we are not God, but rather His instrument. We are His people and He desires to use us to bring others to Himself.

Our role as believers is not to be another person’s Holy Spirit but rather to walk along side, encourage, and bear the burdens of those around on His behalf. Never for a moment do we take God’s place, but rather we show His love, His light, and His grace so that others see Him more clearly.

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