Luke's Messiah (03) - Promised Renewal
Luke’s Messiah (03) - Promised Renewal
Luke 3:7–18: So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. . . . “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 3:17 “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
1) The Meaning of John’s Ministry - The puzzling ministry of John the Baptist makes much more sense when you understand that the exile of Israel was not yet over. He goes out into the wilderness to lead a remnant of renewed Israel through the Jordan River being washed (sprinkled) as they pass (Ez. 36:25). Then the must live as an ethically renewed Israel.
2) The Message of John’s Ministry - The message of John summarized here has three parts: covenantal presumption (vv 7-9), ethical renewal (vv 10-14), and the coming of Messiah (vv 15-18). Therefore, if we would be part of the Renewed New Covenant Israel, we must know that:
a) Don’t Presume (vv3-9). Don’t say, “We have Abraham or Calvin or Wesley as our father.” We may enter into a culpable covenant relationship by birth (graciously), but we must “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (v8). There can be no presumption in, nor rejection of the covenant.
b) Don’t Act in Your Own Interest (vv 10-14). We must act like a renewed people in generosity (v11). This requires ceasing from the corruptions, such as theft (v 12-13), extortion, “false accusations” (v14) and being “content with your wages”
c) Don’t Rest in Signs (vv15-18). Israel (including the leadership) should have received John’s preparation and sign of renewal (Lk. 7:30). But accepting the preparation is insufficient if it does not lead to the coming One (Christ) (Acts 19:5). John would “baptize you with water; but One is coming who” “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (v 16). In the same way our participation in Church “signs,” from baptism to communion are insufficient if they are not realized in living faith in Christ Himself by the power of the Spirit which are shown in a renewed life which walks in love.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more