Luke 3:1-22

Ministry of John the Baptist
Luke 3:1-22

John’s Baptism and the Baptism of Jesus on earth can be viewed as “Kingdom baptism” in contrast with “Christian Baptism”. Kingdom baptism is what disconnected the faithful Jews from the guilt of apostate Israel, while Christian baptism bring us into the Christian testimony. Kingdom baptism is connected with the Messiah on earth, and Christian baptism is connected with the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The testimony of the Jewish remnant was simply that they had turned away from Israel's sins and were waiting for the Messiah to come and for the Kingdom to be established on the earth. The Christian testimony goes beyond this.

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John’s message. The gospel John the Baptist preached was first that the Lord was coming; the object of all the Old Testament prophecies was about to arrive. Second, that the kingdom was at hand. Third, Israel needed to repent. John was working to “plow up the ground” and create a condition of repentance in the hearts of the Jews so that they would receive their Messiah. Baptism was the expression of repentance. In Luke 3 we get the moral features of John’s message. Men ought to manifest fruits of repentance (v.8). John didn’t preach the gospel of the grace of God, as Paul does in Romans, but the gospel of the kingdom. John was not the sower (Matt. 13), but he was the plowman. It has been said that John’s hand held the plow, but not the seed. The Lord was the sower, and we can see how His ministry dovetailed with John’s.

A Summary of John’s Ministry (3:1-14)

1 Now in the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Ituraea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came upon John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 
3 And he came into all the district round the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet: “Voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. 5 Every gorge shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked places shall become a straight path, and the rough places smooth ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” [Isa. 40:3-5]
7 He said therefore to the crowds which went out to be baptised by him, Offspring of vipers, who has forewarned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce therefore fruits worthy of repentance; and begin not to say in yourselves, We have Abraham for our father, for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 And already also the axe is applied to the root of the trees; every tree therefore not producing good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
10 And the crowds asked him saying, What should we do then? 11 And he answering says to them, He that has two body-coats, let him give to him that has none; and he that has food, let him do likewise. vv.10-11 The step these ones had taken in baptism would need to be followed up with a practical change in the life.
12 And tax-gatherers came also to be baptised, and they said to him, Teacher, what should we do? 13 And he said to them, Take no more money than what is appointed to you.
14 And persons engaged in military service also asked him saying, And we, what should we do? And he said to them, Oppress no one, nor accuse falsely, and be satisfied with your pay. v.14 It would seem that these soldiers were more likely Jewish temple guard than Roman soldiers, because the sins being repented of were of a national character.

John’s Prophecy About Christ (3:15-18)

15 But as the people were in expectation, and all were reasoning in their hearts concerning John whether “he” might be the Christ, 16 John answered all, saying, “I” indeed baptise you with water, but the mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not fit to unloose; “he” shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire; 17 whose winnowing-fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his threshing-floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner, but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18 Exhorting then many other things also he announced his glad tidings to the people.

His Imprisonment by Herod (3:19-20)

19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him as to Herodias, the wife of his brother, and as to all the wicked things which Herod had done, 20 added this also to all the rest, that he shut up John in prison.

The Baptism of Jesus (3:21-22)

21 And it came to pass, all the people having been baptised, and Jesus having been baptised and praying, that the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove upon him; and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou” art my beloved Son, in thee I have found my delight.