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The Ministry of John

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Luke 3:1-6

Introduction:  John’s ministry takes 20 verses in Luke; Jesus’ takes the rest of the book.  That does not make John’s work unimportant.  Every human’s work is less important than God’s work.  Let’s start looking at John’s work.

I. Dating this story     vs. 1-2

    A. Deciding when Tiberius’ reign began depends on whether or not you start with his co-regency with Augustus.

    B. Pilate was prefect of Judea from A.D. 26–36.

    C. Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee and Perea from 4 BC to AD 29.

         1. He killed John

         2. It was his father who tried to kill baby Jesus

    D. High priest  (singular)

         1. Annas, 6-15 AD

         2. Caiaphas

    E. Dating of a prophet’s words was common in OT (Isa 6:l; Jer 1:2; Ezek 1:1–3 and Hag 1:1; Zech 1:1)

    F. About 28 AD

II. John’s message    vs. 2-3

    A. Word from God

         1. Claim to be a prophet

         2. Inspiration

    B. κηρύσσω:  To preach, to herald, proclaim, announce publicly

    C. Baptism / immersion

         1. μετάνοια, repentance

             a. ,,, connects John with the great prophets of Israel. These called the people back from their alienation from and rebellion against God. They called them to refocus their lives on God and on his will, to trust him unreservedly and to turn away from everything unworthy of him[1]

             b. John’s connection of baptism and repentance lacks any close antecedent.[2]

             c. The absence of close parallels makes it more difficult to decide whether the water of baptism primarily expresses repentance (as a turning away from evil—Isa 1:16–17; Jer 4:14) or the divine answer to repentance in the cleansing from sin (Ps 51:7–9; Isa 4:2–6; Ezek 36:25–26, 33; 37:23; Jer 38:8; Jub. 1.23; Rev 7:14). However, John’s active role in dispensing baptism (which the name βαπτιστής, “Baptist,” already suggests) requires us to favor the second. This option is also supported by the parallel with Christian baptism (see Acts 22:16). [3]

         2. Forgiveness (sending away) of sins

III. Prophecy concerning John   vs. 4-6

    A. Isaiah 40:3-5

3     A voice of one calling:

“In the desert prepare

the way for the Lord;

make straight in the wilderness

a highway for our God. 

4     Every valley shall be raised up,

every mountain and hill made low;

the rough ground shall become level,

the rugged places a plain.

5     And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,

and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the

Lord has spoken.”

    B. The Lord is coming; get ready

    C. Much hard work is needed to get ready

         1. Repentance

         2. This kind of thing is typical when a king would visit

    D. The Lord’s coming is for all people, not just Jews

Conclusion:  Because we know the rest of the story, John’s work may seem unimportant to us as we compare it to Jesus.  But John did a vital job in calling the people to repentance, making them ready to receive Jesus.

Riverwalk Church of Christ.  February 14, 2010.  PM.


[1]Nolland, J. (2002). Vol. 35A: Word Biblical Commentary : Luke 1:1-9:20 (141). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[2]Nolland, J. (2002). Vol. 35A: Word Biblical Commentary : Luke 1:1-9:20 (141). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[3]Nolland, J. (2002). Vol. 35A: Word Biblical Commentary : Luke 1:1-9:20  (141). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

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