Saturday, January 9, 2021

Preparing The Way

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Luke moves quickly past “the silent years” of Jesus’ life in Chapter 3 of His Gospel account. John the Baptist returns to the pages, and the chapter ends with Jesus’ Baptism.

The first chapter was all about John’s conception and birth; Chapter 2 was all about Jesus’ conception and birth. And chapter 3 describes John’s ministry, ending where the two cross paths at the Jordan with John baptizing his younger Cousin. Chapter 3 closes with Joseph’s genealogy, and chapter 4 then takes us closer to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, Luke’s third chapter is a very important historical record. It is significant due to its details about Roman rulers, a wilderness area, the nearby Jordan River, and its proximity to Jerusalem! How faithful the Holy Spirit is to inspire Luke to include all these facts that are certifiable in secular history. The Holy Spirit knew that the Gospels would be scrutinized heavily and details like in Chapter 3 would be undeniable. Historical characters and geography are not the substance of fairy tales!

For anyone who doubts the historical facts these days, they are easily verified in seconds on any computer they may have access to. And Luke himself declares that he was an eyewitness to all that he is about to write in this record (Luke 1:1-4).

Like the Apostles Paul and Peter, et al, each of them knows they were moved to write and relate the story of Jesus by the Holy Spirit of God. These Evangelists were men who had seen Jesus in all His humility, and seen Him also in His power and glory! By the time they all wrote their accounts, each was Spirit-filled and sold-out for Jesus. These historical accounts declare it, because they all gave their lives for it. Peter states:
“For we have not followed cunningly devise fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” 
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” ~ 2Peter 1:16 & 21 

Today's Audio Message: "Preparing The Way" - Luke 3:1-22

Like a painting placed inside a beautiful frame, John the Baptist's ministry (3:2b-3) is bracketed between the historical context (3:1-2a) and the context of Old Testament prophecy (3:4-6). Among the Gospel writers, only Luke takes the time to mention leaders in power at various political levels when John appeared. Luke is also unique in emphasizing the extent to which John the Baptist's coming represents a renewed realization of the promise of Isaiah 40:3-5. For Isaiah, the initial fulfillment of seeing God's hand had been in the deliverance from exile during the period of Cyrus the Great, as later chapters of Isaiah note. Now the pattern of God's working to deliver his people is renewed in the word of a “voice of one crying in the wilderness” as John’s calling was not to follow in his father’s footsteps as a priest in the temple, but to obey God’s calling in preparing the way of the Lord. God approaches, and creation is to level all geographical obstacles to prepare for his coming, as if rolling out a great red carpet. This leveling includes seeking contriteness of heart (Is 57:14-17).

After 400 years of silence, when the time came for God’s voice to proclaim the coming of their promised Savior – he used the most unusual individual. There’s no getting around the fact John the Baptist was a unique and odd character of His choosing. He wore strange clothes, ate weird food and preached a most unusual message. Because the power of the Holy Spirit was upon him, many, including religious leaders, public servants and Roman soldiers traveled out to all the areas surrounding the Jordan River in order to hear him preach repentance and baptism. It is interesting to note, that they were not offended by his style of preaching, but were teachable, seeking the Lord and searching with their hearts.

John had a very specific role to play in the unfolding of the long-awaited Messiah. In those days, when a king was about to take a trip, he would send out messengers along the highways and byways to announce his planned passing through. It was an announcement for the people to prepare themselves for royalty to pass their way. “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” The salvation of God is Jesus Christ - the King was coming.

John’s message was powerful and proclaimed with boldness. People were to repent of their sins, be baptized and look for their long-awaited King. As People flocked by the hundreds, the way was being prepared. He pointed to One who was greater than he, the Son of God. “And when Jesus was baptized and praying the heaven opened, the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son: in thee I am well pleased.” If anyone has any doubts of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit being One - verse 22 is your proof text, where all three persons of the Trinity are present for all to see.

We live in difficult times, the world is upside down and people are filled with skepticism and animosity to the ways of God. How critical is our great commission in this world? We are lights of redemption, pointing others to Jesus. We too are His messengers, and we must take seriously His calling in our lives to share The Gospel.  It is His message of the love of God and His redemptive plan for mankind through Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus is our Salvation!

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