Summary: 1) Luke has fact checked the report for you; 2) Luke has prepared the Road for the King; and 3) The Ellis Island for Christianity is Repentance.
Most people are religious at some point in their life. They dabble in religion either as a child or perhaps they attend church for a while with a friend during their days in college to explore the fascinating world of religious belief. A coworker dies that is Buddhist and they interact with their religion at their memorial service. One way or another, most of us have had a religious phase in our lives. And our spiritual side is not something that can be analyzed under a microscope as clinical and purely objective. Instead, our spiritual sides are a combination of our mind, heart, and soul. For some, their religious side fades as soon as it arrives. To hear them talk, you would learn their thoughts on some of the newest movies or their thoughts on politics but you would hear little talk of their religion. Their religion faded over time.
Still for others, religion sticks as we develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And the first step inside the doorway to Christianity is repentance. Think of repentance as Ellis Island where all immigrants must first visit before they’re given citizenship papers. Yet, if Christianity is the place where some of us immigrate, many still attempt to straddle the fence between Christianity and an old way of living. In a word, this is hypocrisy. It’s the ugly side of Christianity. And hypocrisy has historically ranked as a major cause for people being turned off by Christianity. We hear, “Jesus, I like, it’s the church I can’t stand.” And it’s this side of our lives that I want to circle in bright red ink for the next few moments. I want to talk to you today about “Jesus Against Hypocrites.”
We continue a series entitled, The Man Who Won’t Go Away, this morning. Anyone who is familiar with the story of Jesus Christ knows of His influence. This one solitary life has done more to inspire hope and love in our world than anyone. And anyone who is familiar with the story of Jesus Christ knows He is anything but an inauthentic life. There is authenticity to the life of Jesus that you can smell on every page of the Bible. Even Jesus’ enemies couldn’t find anything at fault with Him. And while Jesus, The Man Who Won’t Go Away, is unsullied, His followers’ lives have been characterized by a blend of moral chaos and moral purity.
Join me in reading Luke 3:1-20 as we see how God works purity in our live and squeezes out hypocrisy in our lives as you would wring out a cloth.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea (Et two re a) and Trachonitis (Track o nit tus), and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”