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

Today’s message looks at the ministry of John the Baptist (3:2b-3) joined between the historical context in verses 1-2a, and Old Testament prophecy in chapter 3:4-6. Luke is the only one of the Gospel writers who mentions the leaders in power at the arrival of John. Luke’s Gospel is also the only one who realizes the promise of Isaiah 40:3-5. God’s work 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 all obstacles prepare for his coming. Every geological obstacles are removed to demonstrate that the King was coming and that all people would see their King in the person of Jesus. But spiritually speaking - every obstacle that keeps mankind from being reconciled with God is now made possible through the finished work of Jesus Christ. “Every valley shall be filled, every mount and hill will be made low and the crooked shall become straight and the rough places shall become level ways.”

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 man, and quite an odd character. He lived out in the wilderness. He wore really strange clothes, and ate weird food. More importantly he preached a most unusual message. Remember that the Spirit of God was upon Him, even in His mother’s womb. Because of this, and God’s specific call upon him, multitudes, including religious leaders, and Roman soldiers traveled out to the area surrounding the Jordan River in order to hear him preach repentance and baptism. Many hungered for the Word of God.

John role was unique. He was to be the forerunner of Jesus before the long-awaited Messiah arrived. He would prepare the way of the Lord. In ancient times, whenever a king would take a trip, messengers would be sent out to announce his passing through. The announcement was a way for the people to prepare themselves for the king to pass their way. In like manner, John would announce the coming of Jesus. Luke 3:6, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

John’s message was powerful and he proclaimed it 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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