Wednesday, April 25, 2018

John the Baptist

A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him’ ”
(Luke 3:4b).

Today we return to our studies in Luke, and for a couple of days, we shall consider Luke 3. Here we encounter the greatest prophet of the Old Testament period: John the Baptist. True, his story is recorded in the New Testament books, but his life and ministry took place at the close and climax of the Old Covenant era.

The Jewish historian Josephus says much more about John than he does about Jesus (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:5:2). We see that John had a tremendous impact on the nation. Remember that Jesus concealed much of His ministry until right before His crucifixion. John, however, operated very publicly, calling all men to repentance.

John was “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). Baptism was not a new thing to the Jews. The Mosaic law had prescribed many baptisms for various kinds of uncleanness and defilement (Leviticus 11–15; Numbers 19). Moreover, a Gentile who converted to Judaism was baptized to remove all his defilements. John was saying to the people: “You are unclean. You are like Gentiles. You have to repent and enter the kingdom by passing through the Jordan River again.”

John charged all the people with being sons of Satan. He said to the crowds, “You brood of vipers,” that is, you sons of the old serpent! He told them to “flee from the wrath to come.” He warned them not to rely on their tradition, and not to count on being sons of Abraham: “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 of Abraham” (Luke 3:7–8).

John stated that the judgment of the world was at hand. “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” (v. 9). The bad trees were about to be cut down. It was time to get ready! And the same applies to us: Are we ready to meet the King?

“God has no grandchildren.” This means each new generation must come to personal faith in Christ. Formalism, “historical” faith, and traditionalism can lull church members into wrongly assuming salvation. How would you respond to the question: “Are you ready to meet the King?”