Preparing for Christ’s Ministry

Key Verse: “As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
—Luke 3:4

Selected Scripture:
Luke 3:1-18

OUR LESSON OPENS IN the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea and Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. It was at this time that John the son of Zacharias came into the country of Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Luke 3:3) John’s work was in fulfillment of the Prophet Isaiah’s words, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”—Isa. 40:3-5

The nation of Israel had been in covenant relationship with God for over 1800 years. They had been a very stubborn, disobedient people, now God was sending his messenger John to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah.

Many came to John whose hearts were totally out of harmony with righteousness, so he said to them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7) John then urged them to “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”—vs. 8

In verse nine John gave them the bad news that because of their disobedient ways, God like a logger, was taking the axe and cutting them off from their previous position of being his exclusive people. The nation had not brought forth the fruitage that God desired, so their polity was to be destroyed. They were like trees cut down and cast into the fire.

The words of John must have hit them hard, and they cried “What shall we do?” (vs. 10) John’s answer brought to their attention a complete change in their ways of living. No longer would they be able to fall back on the traditions of the fathers. John pointed out to them the true meaning of righteousness.

Now they were to bring forth true repentance. They were to learn what love was all about: Give to the poor, be honest in all their dealings with others, treat each other in exactly the way they themselves would want to be treated, and be content with what they had.

The words of John started the people wondering if he were the Christ to come. He told them that he wasn’t Christ, that Christ was greater than he and that he was not even worthy to untie Jesus’ shoes. The Christ would do a different work of baptizing, one with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Jesus would winnow them, purge his floor and gather the wheat into his barn. Indeed a new and living way was opening.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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