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9: The Forerunner John’s Ministry

May 14, 2009

Major Text: Luke 3:1-18; Matt. 3:13-17

Harmony Texts:

Mark 1:1                                          Luke 3:1-2
Matt. 3:1-6         Mark 1:2-6      Luke 3:3-6
Matt. 3:7-10                                  Luke 3:7-14
Matt. 3:11-12     Mark 1:7-8      Luke 3:15-18
Matt. 3:13-17     Mark 1:9-11    Luke 3:21-23

Outline:

  1. John Begins His Ministry                                     Luke 3:1-2
  2. John’s Message of Repentance                            Luke 3:3-14
  3. John Defines the Messiah                                    Luke 3:15-18
  4. John Baptizes the Messiah                                  Matt. 3:13-17

Context/Discussion/Comments:

John’s ministry begins at a very specific time, the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign.  Pontius Pilate was the Roman Governor of Judea and Annas and Caiaphas were the Jewish High Priests.  He is preaching on the eastern side of the Jordan just north of Jericho.  He is the voice crying in the wilderness challenging the people to repent and to prepare for the Lord’s coming.  His language is somewhat harsh in that he challenges the Jew’s faith in Abraham [heritage] instead of Abraham’s God Yahweh.  He wants them to repent and be fruitful [do good].  He gives them some specifics such as 1.] Share what you have with others, 2.] Do not over tax, 3.] Don’t take advantage of your fellow man, and 4.] Don’t give false testimony.  They are to be content and serve their fellow man.  In other words, discard your hard heart; look for, listen for, and anticipate Messiah’s arrival; and do good.  Or to put it another way, clean up and get ready to receive your King.

He was such a powerful preacher that people wondered if he was the Christ.  John defines Christ as more powerful than he [great miracles, ability to change lives], one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit instead of water, and one who will separate the wheat from the chaff [judging the righteous from the unrighteous].

Jesus comes to John to be baptized.  John refuses but Jesus convinces him that it is OK.  Jesus wants to set the right example.  He is not above the Law nor is He above doing what is necessary and right for the sake of righteousness.  He shows us what we are to do in order to see Him for what He truly is, the Son God who God loves and with whom God is pleased.

Perhaps Peter, James, and John along with other future disciples of Jesus were present when Jesus was baptized and thus, were influenced by what they saw and heard before Jesus extended His special calling to them in Galilee.

Lessons/Applications:

  1. Preparation of one’s heart through repentance is required before Christ is fully revealed to you.
  2. One’s ministry begins and ends according to God’s timetable.
  3. One’s ministry begins when baptized with the Holy Spirit [commissioning].  This is the baptism of being “born again” not the baptism of repentance practiced in our churches

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