The Book of Luke, John the Baptist, Part III Ė Lesson 25
The message of a forerunner is always to get ready for the one to come.
And John, as the forerunner of the Messiah, is in the spotlight at the beginning of this chapter.
We have already seen the intertwining of John and Jesus and that continues here in chapter three.
Both John and Jesus began their ministries with the proclamation ďRepent, for the kingdom of God is at handĒ (Matt. 3;2; 4:17).
Matthew 3:1,2, In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 4:17, From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
This message is a get ready message.
ďThe kingdom of God is at handĒ requires a preparation for with the kingdom of God comes the king to whom all his subjects are accountable.
Now both John and Jesus began with the same message but we soon see that there were significant differences between John and his ministry and Jesus and His ministry and message.
Almost without exception, it was John who stressed the differences between himself and Jesus, showing Jesus in all ways to be superior.
John never exalted himself but he always exhalted the Lord Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist clearly distinguished their origin, as was made clear by Luke.
Jesus was from above, while John was from below.
Jesus was God, while John was but a man:
John 1:29-30, The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
John knew that he was born before Christ but here he recognizes the eternality of Jesus Christ for he says that he was before me.
John recognized that Jesus was the bridegroom but John was the friend of the groom.
John 3: 29, He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroomís voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
As we so well know the friend of the bridegroom lifts up the bridegroom and is never to show himself before the bridegroom.
While both men baptized, John insisted the baptism of Jesus, was greater.
Matt. 3:11, I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:.
Jesus was the Messiah; John was the forerunner or announcer of the Messiah.
Johnís message stressed coming judgment, an accountability message, while Jesus spoke of forgiveness and salvation.
John performed no miracles while Jesus performed many.
John 10:41,42, And many resorted unto him (Jesus), and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42And many believed on him there.
But John had his distinctions.
He was unique and easily stood out from the crowd.
He was a Nazarite from birth, his food was distinctive, his dress was unusual.
John was a man of the desert and as a man of the desert he ate the the food of the desert, wild locusts and honey.
John was a prophet, and so he dressed in the garb of Elijah the prophet.
John was a popular and powerful preacher.
Johnís ministry was not a miracle performing ministry.
The ministry of Jesus Christ was a miracle performing ministry for God the father desired for Israel to know that Jesus was a man approved of God among them by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of Israel, as Peter tells us in the book of Acts.
That was not to be the ministry of John because John was there to point to the man approved of God.
John came not to heal, he came not to raise the dead, he came not to give sight to the blind, but he came to prepare the way for the great healer, the one who raised the dead, the one who could give sight to the blind and strength to the lame.
John was not the solution to manís sin problem.
He was simply there to point to the solution, and so it remains for us to do the same for we are not the solution, only Christ is the solution.
We are not here that others may conform to us but we are here as John was here, to point the way to Christ.
John also knew that his ministry was for a particular time and place.
He was like the courier who was sent ahead and called the city into action when the king was coming to pay a visit.
The courierís duty was to proclaim a ďget readyĒ message for the king is coming.
And as the courierís duty was over when the king came, so was Johnís duty over when Christ the king came.
So Johnís ministry was clearly a preaching ministry and for a particular time.
The Gospel of Mark concerning the beginning of Johnís ministry makes it clear that Johnís ministry was widely known and widely sought by all those of the land of Judaea:
Mark 1:5, And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
Mark informs us that even Herod had enjoyed listening to John, even though the message of John struck hard at his own sins.
Mark 6:20, For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Herod liked to be entertained by good preaching, thinking that the message of John was certainly not for him but perhaps it was good for the common folk.
This is a lesson on how to determine the proud heart from the humble heart.
The proud heart always listens to the preaching of the word as if it only applies to others. They sure needed that!
But the humble heart always listens to the preaching of the word as if it only applies to him. I sure needed that!
John may have been ďa voice crying in the wilderness,Ē but many people heard this voice and when he preached there was great response.
The people came not to witness a miracle, they came not to be fed with food of a miracle, but they came to hear John who was a powerful preacher.
Since John performed no sign, no miracle, this means that only Johnís preaching attracted the crowds.
John had a message that the crowd was glad to hear.
John had a message of the coming of the Messiah which no doubt caused great excitement and gave great hope to the people concerning the coming of the kingdom.
Luke 3:15-18, And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; 16John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.
John was a man endowed by God with an understanding of the sinfulness of man, and manís unreadiness to meet God.
This is what makes powerful preaching, understanding the hopelessness of man and his total lack of any standing necessary to meet God.
This understanding does not come easily and there are not many that have this understanding and we therefore do not have many powerful preachers.
John did not have to live in the city, John did not have to live in society to know this for John knew the holiness of God and therefore he knew the depravity of man.
The closer you walk with God the better is your understanding of the sinfulness of man.
You do not have to involve yourself in sin, you simply have to involve yourself with God.
Johnís ministry easily reveals that he knew what was going on in the hearts of men.
John not only rebuked Herod for taking another manís wife as his own, he also rebuked Him for ďall the wicked things he had doneĒ.