Having spent a week in the Rocky Mountains, I am reminded of the glory of God’s creation. The first thing we learn about God from the Bible is that he is the Creator. Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible reminds us of this all the way through, ending with Revelation 10:6, which refers to God as the “him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it…”
The creation also tells us something about the Creator. Romans 1:19-20 says “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world…” The majesty of tall mountains of stone reveal God’s eternal power. As powerful and majestic as the mountains appear, they remind us that the one who created them is more powerful and majestic. They could only be created by one who is divine.
The beauty of God’s creation tells us that God’s plan for us is beautiful, not onerous. God could have made the earth uniform and plain. Instead he made it diverse, intriguing, and beautiful. When we order our lives under his lordship, his sovereign rule, we will see this beauty, his beauty, in our lives. We know this is true because Revelation shows us that the end of all things will be a place totally under the rule of the Lord and that place is beautiful. It is peaceful and restful.
May you see God’s glory today and experience his peace.
After Malachi there was no prophetic voice for over 400 years. In other words, God did not speak a new word to his people during 4 centuries. As we have seen in our study of Luke, John the Baptist was the next prophet to speak for God.
Fortunately for us, God has spoken, caused his word to be written, and preserved it for us. We believe the cannon is closed; there are no new books and no new word from God. That is because Christ is the final word. "In these last days, he has spoke to us by his Son". (Hebrews 1:2)
While there is no new word, there is a final word. It is a sufficient word. It is all we need for "life and godliness". (2 Peter 1:3) And every day we may pick it up and read it to learn about God. Every day we may find his wisdom, his strength, his comfort and his salvation.
There is no silence for the followers of Jesus. We have his word, we have the Holy Spirit to guide and illuminate us and we have the love of God upon us.
John’s popularity and authoritative preaching made people wonder if he was the Christ. John denied it. In fact, he said he was unworthy even to untie the straps of Messiah’s sandals. (16)
That saying does not mean the same for us as it did for them. In that day, a teacher’s disciples would do everything for him. But there was one thing they were never required to do: untie the teacher’s sandals. That was considered degrading.
Yet John said he was unworthy to do even this degrading task for Christ. John was saying, not only am I not the Christ, he is so superior to me that I am not worthy to do even the most degrading task for him.
John was humble. Yet, Jesus said of him that “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist”. (Matthew 11:11) If John was the humble, we certainly should be humble.
Consider something even greater. Jesus, the most worthy of all men, did not have his disciples untie his sandals. He did more than untied their sandals. He washed their feet. It was such a menial, degrading task that Peter tried to prevent Jesus from doing it to him (John 13:1-20) Peter said “You shall never wash my feet”.
Jesus served his disciples as an example to show that we should serve each other. There should be no celebrities in the church. There should only be servants.
John also pointed out the differences between himself and Christ. First, he said Christ was mightier than he. And he was. Christ healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, calmed storms and forgave sins.
Second, while John baptized with water, Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. (16)
Christ would, and will, baptize all who believe in him with the Holy Spirit. Each believer would have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.
But those who reject Christ face judgment. Baptizing with fire is a symbol of consuming fire. John emphasized Christ’s power to judge, saying Christ had the winnowing fork in his hand. This is the instrument used to separate wheat from chaff.
The wheat is a symbol of those who believed in Jesus and followed him. The wheat is gathered into the barn, a symbol of receiving eternal life. The chaff represents those who do not follow Christ. For example, Psalm 1:4 says “the wicked are no so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away”. In our passage, John says they are burned with unquenchable fire. In other words, hell is their final destination.
John was saying I can call you to repentance but Christ can call you to account.
Israel as a nation faced judgment at the hands of the Romans because they as a nation would not repent. This is the ultimate curse of the covenant. God said, ultimately, if Israel does not repent and turn to him, He would destroy them. Individuals faced the fires of hell because they would not repent and follow Christ.
John’s preaching brought many to repentance. But it also led him to trouble with Herod. John condemned the action of Herod in marrying his brother’s wife Hernias. So, Herod put him in jail. (18) Preaching the truth can get you into trouble.
The Baptism of Jesus
Luke does not give the baptism of Jesus as much attention as some of the gospel writers. But he tells us that Jesus was baptized and he shows it to be an event participated in by all of the persons of the Godhead. It was a Trinitarian event.
Jesus went into the water to be baptized. Afterward, the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And lastly, the Father spoke from heaven and said "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased".
The heavens opened and the Spirit descended. (21) The Holy Spirit resided in heaven except when sent to earth on certain occasions. He had not yet been sent by the Father to dwell on earth. That would not happen until Jesus ascended.
The descent of the Spirit shows that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah. Remember that Christ means anointed one. He was anointed in the sense of being chosen by the Father to be the redeemer. He was also anointed by the Spirit.
In his baptism, Jesus is declared to be the anointed one and physically anointed as well. Peter later preached that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. (Acts 10:38)
We also see a fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1, which says "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him".
Interestingly, this is a physical manifestation of the Spirit. The Spirit descended in “bodily form”. That form was like a dove. (21) John saw this and understood it to be the Spirit. Others may have seen it also.
The declaration of the Father shows that Jesus is following the Father's plan, for the Father is well pleased. It also shows that he is the Son of God. Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 2:7: "I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, You are my Son; today I have begotten you".
Why was Jesus baptized? It was not as a sign of his repentance, as he had nothing for which he needed to repent. He did not have a sin nature. He did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Rather, Jesus submitted himself to baptism to identify with sinners. Thus he began the process that would lead to the cross. There he identified with sinners in the ultimate fashion, taking our sins upon himself and dying for them on the cross.
When Israel was threatened with destruction by the
commander of the Assyrian army, King Hezekiah took the matter straight to the
Lord. (Isaiah 37) He went to the temple to pray and he talked to God’s man, the
The Lord’s first words, spoken through the prophet
Isaiah, were “Do not be afraid”. He went on to tell Hezekiah how the Lord would
take care of the problem and protect Jerusalem from destruction.
The enemy told Hezekiah he could not trust God because he
was not sufficiently powerful to defeat the Assyrian army. But Hezekiah did
trust and the Lord did defeat the Assyrians.
Many of us have, or will, face adversities to powerful
for us to fight. Sometimes it seems that temptation to sin is so great we
cannot possibly prevail. Illness may scare us. Politics and government seem out
of control or under the control of the evil one.
There are two questions you must answer. First, does God
care about me? Second, does God have the power to deliver me?
One reason we have all the stories of the Bible are to
show his people he cared. God protected Noah and his family from the
destruction of the world by water. You likely will not face an issue that
overwhelming. God delivered Israel repeatedly. All of these stories tell us of
a God who cares. And, in case you did not get the point, Peter tells us
specifically, to cast our anxieties on the Lord because he cares for us. (1
The Bible also resonates with demonstrations of God’s
mighty power. He created all things. He delivered the Israelites from Egypt. He
defeated the Assyrian army. Knowledge of God’s word is knowledge of God and his
I can never say “I know what you are going through” even
when I sympathize with your struggles. But I can say I know God. He cares. He
is powerful. You can trust him.