Summary: Luke shares with us what a Christ centered post-baptismal life involves: 1. A life of intimate prayer 2. A life empowered and led by the Holy Spirit 3. A life that reveals in its true identity and mission as a child of God
Theme: Post Baptismal Life
Proposition: Luke shares with us what a Christ centered post-baptismal life involves: 1. A life of intimate prayer 2. A life empowered and led by the Holy Spirit 3. A life that reveals in its true identity and mission as a child of God
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.
What a joy it is to worship with you and your family this morning. Thank-you for being here. If you would please, turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter three where we see Luke sharing with us some new and exciting events that were taking place near the Jordan River around 26/27 AD. After many years of silence, God had raised up a Spirit-filled prophet among the people of Israel. This prophet's was the only son of a Levite couple named Zacharias and Elizabeth who went by the name John the Baptist.
John the Baptist proved to be a most unusual prophet. First of all, John was the son of a religious insider. He was the promise child of a Levite couple. All of his life, John had been raised in and around the Temple. He had been taught the ways of a priest and skilled in what it meant to serve as a mediator between God and man. He was well acquainted with the intricate rituals, prayers and sacrifices of the Temple. Everything about being a priest was second nature to John. He was a man of all the smells, bells and whistles so to speak.
No doubt, Zacharias and Elizabeth thought that their promised son John would live out his life as a faithful Levite priest serving in and around the Temple. They probably thought John would proclaim the coming of the Messiah in some type of major Temple event. And yet, as Luke writes, John being led by the LORD was told to live out in the rugged wilderness and proclaim a powerful message centering on repentance, forgiveness of sin and water baptism.
John traded in his priestly robe for the prophet's camel haired garment. John traded in his comfortable room for camping out in the wilderness and desert area near the Jordan River. John traded working inside the hallways of the Temple for the waters of the Jordan River. And John traded in a daily diet of bread, fish and the occasional lamb or goat feast for a meager diet of locust and wild honey.
John's message was simple, to the point and packed with supernatural power - "Repent of your sins, seek God's forgiveness, submit to water baptism and follow it all up with a life dedicated to holy living". John's message of repentance of course was not new; plenty of prophets, priests and scribes had proclaimed, prayed and penned down the message of repentance. John's message centering on the need for the forgiveness of sin was not new. That too, had been proclaimed by all the ancient men and women of God. And of course the challenge to live a holy life was not new either. Even the ritual of water baptism was not new. So, what was new? The newness was how John employed the ritual of baptism and to the audience he was calling to experience water baptism.
Commonly, water baptism was seen as a ritual set aside for Gentiles seeking to become followers of YHWH. Water baptism was one of the initiation rites that non-Jewish believers would do to publicly proclaim that they were leaving behind their old life and becoming a follower of the Torah. Through the ritual of water baptism they would publicly display to the world that they had forsaken their pagan gods and had accepted YHWH as the one and only true God. Water baptism was a way for Gentiles to become a part of God's Holy People.
But here was John, proclaiming the need for everyone, both Jews and Gentiles to repent, be baptize and live a holy life. And people from all walks of life were responding to that call. Tax collectors, shepherds, soldiers, stone masons, carpenters, fishermen, scribes and people everywhere were coming out to hear John preach. They would then repent of their sins, seek God's forgiveness, immersed themselves in the waters of the Jordan and then go about doing all they could to live a holy life for the glory of God.
God had greatly anointed and empowered John's ministry. Everyone who heard him speak knew that John was filled with the very spirit of God. People were seeking and finding salvation outside the doors of the Temple at Jerusalem. People were being delivered and liberated from their sins outside the rituals and sacrifices of the Temple. Hundreds were passionately asking God to forgive them of their sins outside the norm of sacrificing a lamb, a bull or a goat. They were seeking God with all their heart, mind and soul. They were choosing to have their sins washed away in the Jordan River rather than traveling to the Herod's Temple and going through all the rituals and rites. They believed that John held the key to salvation and newness of life rather than those serving in Herod's Temple in Jerusalem. There was the excitement of God doing a new work among His people.