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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#839. Prepare the way - Luke 3:1-14 (19/6/23)

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’ John said to the crowds coming out to be baptised by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even tax collectors came to be baptised. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”(Luke 3:1-14)

Main point: A heart that is prepared, repents of sin and receives forgiveness, which is symbolised in baptism.


To watch this devotional, please go to:

Today, we begin a new section in the book of Luke, running from 3:1 to 4:15. In this section, we see the preparation for the ministry of Jesus.


In today's reading, Luke 3:1-14, John begins to prepare the way for the Messiah - Jesus. John starts his prophetic ministry when 'the word of God came to [him] in the wilderness.' This word from God was that everyone needed to get baptised as a sign of their desire to repent and receive forgiveness from the coming Messiah.

He called people to baptism. Baptism involved immersing people in water and was used at the time for anyone who wanted to convert to Judaism. John appropriated this symbol for anyone who wanted to prepare their lives for the coming Messiah and Saviour.


John strongly spoke of sin and the need to repent in practical ways. Coming to an awareness of our sin and our need for repentance and forgiveness is a vital part of preparing the way for Jesus. Repentance is about a change of mind and life, a turning away from something in order to turn toward something. John is very challenging to the Jews who were coming to him. Even though they would have been very religious, they still needed to repent and receive forgiveness in Jesus to be saved from God's wrath.


Response

A heart that is prepared, repents of sin and receives forgiveness, which is symbolised in baptism.

J. I. Packer writes of repentance:

‘Repentance means turning from as much as you know of your sin to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these three points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged.’ (J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God)

We are to repent when we first become a Christian and then we are to live a life of repentance. Baptism is never to be repeated, but repentance is constant. Saying sorry to God and stopping sinful things and starting godly things is to be a constant practice. Psalm 119:59, is a great summary of this:

‘I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.’ (Psalms 119:59)
 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. NOTICES

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


2. ICEBREAKER

What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?

3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER

  • Read Luke 3:1-38

  • What point is Luke trying to make in this passage?

  • What particularly struck you from Sunday's message?

  • What is promised in verses 1-6 and what should this produce in us?

  • How is repentance described in this passage and what does this teach us about what should happen in our lives when we are born again?

  • SIV - We are told that John's evangelistic ministry began as 'the word of the Lord came to [him]'. The word of the Lord has already come to us in the form of the gospel and The Great Commission. How can we become more radical like John?

  • SIV - What does this text tell us about our message?

  • SIV - How could you serve, invest and invite this week and let’s pray about this.

  • Prayer - How would you like prayer as a result of today’s study?







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