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Luke 3

Luke 3 reflections:

I hope you are reading along with us as we journey through the book of Luke/Acts in 2018.  If you did not start with us, it is a good time to catch up.   Read chapters 1 and 2 (you can find my previous reflections here (  Read chapter 3 and you are right in sync with us.

So chapter 3.

First, it takes Luke 3 chapters to tell the story.  Compared to Mark 1:2.   Luke (and Matthew) is where we get the back story of Jesus and John’s birth.   My point is this:  Luke is telling the story of John and Jesus in a very deliberate way.  And in chapter 3 those stories intersect again in the baptism of Jesus.

So here some large things that stick out to me:

  1. Luke is a legitimate journalist.  Where he knows the dates, he gives them in great details (see Luke 3:1,2) and we he does not know the exact date, he does not speak like he does.   In Luke 3:23 he says, “Jesus was about 30 years old.”   I appreciate the honesty.  Things like this help me to trust the reliability of scripture.   I trust people more that admit when they don’t know something.

  2. What was John’s baptism all about?   In Luke 3:3 it says, John was “calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins.” So was baptism new?  What did people of the day think of it?   Check this out:

Now baptism as such was not something altogether new. Historically proselyte baptism, the administration of this rite to those who from the Gentile world had been converted to the Jewish religion, preceded baptism as administered by John. The Jews regarded all Gentiles as being unclean, and therefore subjected them to baptism when they were won over to Judaism. What was new and startling for the Baptist’s audience was that a basic transformation and its sign and seal were required even of the children of Abraham! They too were filthy! They too must acknowledge this openly!

Note that according to verse 3 John went into the whole Jordan neighborhood proclaiming—literally heralding—the need, even for the Jews, of “a baptism of conversion with a view to the forgiveness of sins.” For “proclaiming” one may substitute “preaching,” that is, just so it be understood that genuine preaching or heralding is lively, not dry; timely, not stale. It is the earnest proclamation of news initiated by God. It is not the abstract speculation of views excogitated by man.

And what can be more encouraging than the proclamation of conversion with a view to “the forgiveness of sins”? Such forgiveness means that these sins are sent away to a place from which they can never be recovered. God-fearing people in John’s audience knew about the sin-laden goat that was sent into the wilderness never to return (Lev. 16:8, 20–22). They knew the promise of Ps. 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us,” and they must have experienced the truth of Mic. 7:19, “You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Hendriksen, William, and Simon J. Kistemaker. Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke. Vol. 11. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001. Print. New Testament Commentary.)

  1. John was legit in his call to change.   Luke 3:8 – produce fruit to show you have     changed your hearts and lives.  This was not a change of words and lip service, but heart-deep change.   This passage should give us pause to think about how our lives have changed and not changed as we have turned from our sins and our life before Jesus… and speaking of Jesus

  2. Jesus’ baptism is one of the Holy Spirit and fire.    John’s was good and needed to prepare the way.  But Jesus’ baptism was the ultimate.   In Acts 19:1-7 we are told of some people that had not heard of the Holy Spirit and they had only accepted John’s baptism.  Read there to find out what Paul does with them.  This helps give us some perspective of what Jesus’ baptism was about.   The Holy Spirit is directly tied to baptism.  We will explore more the the role of baptism when we get to Luke – but for now, it is enough to say they are strongly tied together.   The Holy Spirit is deeply tied to the work of Jesus in Luke – and the life of the early church in Acts… which leads to this

  3. The Holy Spirit came down at the actually baptism of Jesus by John.  What does this mean?  The Scripture says:  vs. 22 – The Holy Spirit came down on him (Jesus) in bodily form like a dove.  Why?  Check this out:  What was seen physically was a bodily form resembling a dove. It was seen descending on Jesus. It is not clear just why God chose the form of a dove to represent the Holy Spirit. Some commentators point to the purity and the gentleness or graciousness of the dove, properties which, in an infinite degree, characterize the Spirit, and therefore also Christ (Hendriksen, William, and Simon J. Kistemaker. Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke. Vol. 11. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001. Print. New Testament Commentary.)

6.   One more interesting thing about John.  John harshly criticized Herod, the ruler of the day (Luke 3:19,20). The Greek word here for harshly criticized means:  ‘to state that someone has done wrong, with the implication that there is adequate proof of such wrongdoing—‘to rebuke, to reproach, rebuke, reproach.’ (Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains 1996 : n. pag. Print.)  This is very interesting in light of other New Testament readings, ie Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-17.   So I am thinking out loud – Is it okay to publicly criticize and rebuke those that rule us/govern us when they are in the  most definitely in the moral wrong and still honor the institution and ruling government?   At first glance, I say yes it is.   This opens up a whole lot of thoughts and tensions for what I say publicly and what I hold onto privately. In wisdom, I will sit on this and bit and think about the practical application of Luke 3:19,20 before I say much more.

I invite you to do the same.   Sit on Luke 3.

Ask God,

God, what do I need to hear from your word?

What do you need me to do differently because of this chapter?

How do I need ‘be’ differently because of this chapter.”

Strength and courage,


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