Summary: In today's lesson we examine the testimony of John the Baptist and learn that Jesus is the Christ.
We are studying the life of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke in a sermon series I am calling, “To Seek and To Save the Lost.”
The first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel deal with the prophecies and births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ, and then what happened to Jesus following his birth.
The third chapter of Luke’s Gospel begins by focusing on John the Baptist. John had a remarkable ministry. His preaching was not designed to set people at ease. He saw himself as God’s messenger who called people to repentance. And although he was viewed as a little odd, it would not be an overstatement to say that he was a huge sensation. Thousands of people came to hear him preach (Matthew 3:5).
As we continue our study of John the Baptist today, I would like to examine the testimony of John the Baptist.
Let’s read about his testimony in Luke 3:15-17:
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.” (Luke 3:15-17)
One of the greatest preachers of the last century was Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He once described a stunning personal experience of the Holy Spirit’s empowering his preaching on an unforgettable occasion: “Never, do I think, have I been so conscious of the Power of the Word and the Gale of the Spirit. It is exceedingly difficult to go on living after such an experience, especially difficult to go on preaching.”
Lloyd-Jones described what all true preachers know: it is one thing to preach the Word—it is quite another to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit. And those who heard and knew the Doctor do not doubt a word of his testimony.
His grandson, Christopher Catherwood, writes:
The one thing he prayed for, the one thing he relied on, the one thing he waited for and the one thing above all else and beyond most other preachers of his generation which thousands felt under his preaching was the unction, or anointing, of the Holy Spirit.
We don’t use the word “unction” much in our day, perhaps because so much preaching lacks unction.
But “unction” is a good word. It describes the work of the Holy Spirit who anoints the preacher in such a way so as to enable him to preach with penetrating power, clarity, and conviction. Listeners are riveted to the words of the preacher because in a very real sense his words are coming from the Holy Spirit.
This is what the listeners of John the Baptist experienced when they heard him preach. They were captivated by his preaching, perhaps to an even greater degree than any other preacher ever because John was filled with the Holy Spirit before birth, groomed by the Spirit for thirty years, and then launched into his ministry by the Spirit to prepare the way for Jesus. And in Jesus’ own words, there was no one greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11).
This is the context for the incident I want to examine today. John’s powerful preaching was impacting thousands of people who were repenting of their sin and getting baptized. And so the people began to wonder if John was the Christ. That is, they began to wonder if John was the promised Messiah, the promised Deliverer.
The name “Christ” was the “official title given to Jesus in the New Testament. It signifies his office as anointed Savior and alludes to his spiritual qualifications for the task of saving his people. The word derives from the Greek Christos, which translates the Hebrew Messiah (John 1:41).”
Today I would like to look at the testimony of John the Baptist.
An examination of the testimony of John the Baptist in Luke 3:15-17 will show us that Jesus is the Christ.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. John Is Not the Christ (3:15)
2. Jesus Is the Christ (3:16-17)
I. John Is Not the Christ (3:15)
First, we learn that John is not the Christ.
Luke said that the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ (3:15).
John was an overnight sensation. Thousands of people came from Jerusalem and all Judea and the entire region about the Jordan to hear him preach. All around the countryside people were talking about John. They talked about his unusual lifestyle, his powerful preaching, and his cleansing baptism.