The Gospel of Luke – John the Baptist: Preparing Hearts for the Lord Jesus (Luke 3:1-6)

Today’s message summary of May 5, 2019 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Ezekiel 18:30

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.

Luke 3:1-6

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, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 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.

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,

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

There has been a number of instances here in this country and throughout the world. These are indicators of chaos throughout the world. Within all of this we recognize that many of these events can be seen as political. Abortion, immigration, same-sex couples. Each of these items are prevalent, and the problem with this is that the United States is less and less a Judeo-Christian nation; however, we must note that this nation was founded on the bedrock of these very values.

Many of the views today are permeated with secularism and quasi-religious beliefs. A lot of what we experience today is largely discussed in Scripture.

Whatever happens in our culture should not cause us to be frightful as to what is happening, because virtually everything that we see has been covered in Scripture, and it gives us wisdom and guidance as to how to address it.

The church must use Scripture as the standard for our behavior. Scripture governs Christians and it is the final authority before God. It is imperative that we allow Scripture to shape our world and not allow culture to be what shapes us.

In Luke 3:1-6, there were different things within the religious and political climate of the country that were taking place. These matters involve the shaping of his coming on the scene.

The political climate is referred to within the first two verses. Luke writes about specific people (he also did so in Acts) and gives greater detail more than any other writer. He was capturing the historical events. Jesus, at this time, when Tiberius Caesar became Emperor. He was a harsh ruler who would do so in order to maintain authority, and he was a pagan worshiper. He was a ruler over Israel, as well, and many of the residents did not have anything in common with Tiberius Caesar. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Other rulers appointed were related to Herod, and they also ruled over the region. They are to be viewed as “mayors” over cities in the region. All of this was politically motivated in that it would exercise control and stay in power. Luke wants us to be aware of these things to understand the time, and we need to see that the religious climate was under the leadership of Annas and Caiaphas. The Romans exercised a great deal of control over the priests and had a great deal of influence as to who would lead under their authority. They took these actions under their own guidance.  They were the ones who would later set the trial of Jesus in motion. They were the religious elites of the day in the synagogues.

This is the environment that John the Baptist and Jesus were entering.

John the Baptist was chosen by God to speak to the people and he came from the wilderness in humility to declare the good news to the people. This was something that Annas and Caiaphas was supposed to do, but they didn’t because they did not hear from God.

The word of God came to John (John 1:1). John was receiving a calling from God. There was relative silence of God’s word for about 25 years or so, but this calling came without a special revelation. It was a prompting for John to start preaching the gospel. Zechariah is also referenced in the passage to refer to his role as John’s father and his prophecy about his son and his role in preparing for the coming of the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:74-77).

In the wilderness, there is a stark difference between John and the religious elite in Jerusalem. Like John, Jesus was also in the wilderness to face temptation from Satan (Matthew 4:1-11).

The preparation of John allowed for him to go before others and preach about baptism for the forgiveness of sin, in spite of the religious and political climate, to prepare the hearts and minds of the people for Jesus Christ.

The baptism of people alone was a preparation. There may be remorse by a person, but it alone cannot (and does not) save a person. This is a humbling process that helps a person to recognize the need for a Savior through the power of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ.

The only way that you can approach God is through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit in you (Acts 19:1-8).

One could conclude that the emergence of John the Baptist in this passage revealed the need to make straight the crooked paths of the religious elite.

John prepared the way for the Coming King and to make the path straight. This was a preparation in much the same way that kings and rulers were introduced or announced prior to their presence before the people.

How does it apply to us? It applies because we are also called to preach the gospel before others, and we leave the issue of a person’s salvation up to Him. Our prayer is for God to soften the hearts of people for the Lord Jesus Christ.

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