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15. Preaching of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-17; John 1:19-28)
The preaching of John soon attracted opposition from the Jewish religious leaders. They sent representatives to question him and then report back on what he taught and who he claimed to be. John denied that he was promoting himself as some new leader in Israel. He did not consider himself to be either the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15,Deuteronomy 18:18 or the ‘Elijah’ promised in Malachi 4:5. He was only a voice calling people to turn from their sin and be baptized, and so prepare themselves to receive the Messiah. He was like a messenger sent ahead of the king to tell people to clear the way for the royal arrival (Matthew 3:1-6; Luke 3:1-6; John 1:19-23).
John commanded all people to repent, no matter who they were. Those who were descendants of Abraham were no more privileged in the eyes of God than the stones on the ground. All people, regardless of nationality, religion or social status, were to leave their selfish and sinful ways, and produce results in their daily lives that would prove their repentance to be genuine (Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-14).
Although John baptized people to show they had repented and been forgiven their past sins, his baptism gave them no power to live a pure life. It was merely a preparation for one who was far greater than John. Jesus Christ would give the Holy Spirit, which, like fire, would burn up the useless chaff of the heart, leaving the pure wheat to feed and strengthen the life (Matthew 3:11-12; Luke 3:15-17; John 1:24-28).
16. Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34)
In due course John publicly introduced Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, for whom he had prepared the way. John’s introduction contained none of the popular Jewish ideas of a political or military leader who would bring in a golden age for Israel. Instead it suggested that the Messiah would die, like a lamb offered in sacrifice for the cleansing of sin (John 1:29-30). John then pointed out that he himself was not at first certain that Jesus was the Messiah, but when he saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus at his baptism, he was left in no doubt. John’s explanation indicates that Jesus’ baptism took place before his public introduction (John 1:31-34).
When Jesus approached John to be baptized, John hesitated, because he knew Jesus was superior to him in character, status and authority. But Jesus insisted. He wanted to begin his ministry with a public declaration of his devotion to God. Baptism was an act of obedience carried out by those who declared themselves on the side of God and his righteousness. Jesus was baptized to show that, like all the faithful, he was obedient to God and he intended to carry out all God’s purposes. His baptism displayed his identification, or solidarity, not only with the faithful minority of Israel but also with the human race in general. It was an identification that would lead to a far greater baptism at Golgotha, when as the representative of his fellow human beings he would bear the full penalty of sin (Matthew 3:13-15).
Having shown his intentions openly, Jesus received openly the assurance that his Father was pleased with him. The Father’s announcement, by combining a quote concerning the Davidic Messiah with one concerning the Servant of the Lord (see Psalms 2:7; Isaiah 42:1), gave an indication that Jesus’ way to kingly glory was to be that of the suffering servant. In appointing Jesus to his public ministry, the Father poured out upon him the Holy Spirit, through whose power he would carry out his messianic work (Matthew 3:16-17; cf. Isaiah 11:1-2; Isaiah 61:1; Acts 10:37-38).
6. Genealogies of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38)
The genealogies recorded by Matthew and Luke show how the birth of Jesus fulfilled the promises made to Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 22:18). Matthew, writing for the Jews, begins his genealogy with Abraham, father of the Jewish race (Matthew 1:1-2a). Luke, writing for non-Jews, traces Jesus’ genealogy back past Abraham to Adam, to emphasize Jesus’ union with the whole human race (Luke 3:34-38).
Between Abraham and David the two genealogies are the same (Matthew 1:2-6a; Luke 3:32-34a), but between David and Jesus they are different, as they follow two lines of descent that started with David and came together in Jesus (Matthew 1:6-16; Luke 3:23-31).
Matthew’s genealogy shows that Jesus had legal right to the throne of David, for he was in the royal line of descent that came through Solomon and other kings of Judah down to Joseph. Jesus therefore fulfilled the promise that the Messiah would be one of David’s royal descendants (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 23:5). But both writers point out that though Joseph was Jesus’ legal father he was not his natural father (Matthew 1:16; Luke 3:23).
The genealogies do not necessarily list every person in the line of descent. As is often the case, they may be selective and stylized, to make them fit a simple scheme. Matthew, for example, omits some names to produce an arrangement of three sets of fourteen (Matthew 1:17).
Luke’s genealogy gives further proof that Jesus was descended from David, by tracing his ancestry through the line of another of David’s sons, Nathan. This may represent another line of descent from David to Joseph, or it may represent the line of descent from David to Mary (but Mary’s name is not shown, since the genealogies record only the names of the males). If the latter is the case, Joseph was the ‘son’ of Heli only because of his marriage to Mary (i.e. Mary was the daughter of Heli, Joseph the son-in-law). It is possible that Mary’s mother was from the tribe of Levi and descended from Aaron (cf. Luke 1:5,Luke 1:36) and her father from the tribe of Judah and descended from David (cf. Luke 1:32,Luke 1:69).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 3". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20