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Luke 3.1 - 17

posted 24 Jun 2013, 03:13 by Ben@theorderoftheblacksheep.com
Our story continues 15 years after Tiberius Caesar had begun his reign over the empire. Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod ruled Galilee, his brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruled Abilene.

In Jerusalem Annas and Caiaphas were high priests in the temple. And in those days, out in the wilderness, John (son of Zacharias) received a message from God.

John brought this divine message to all those who came to the Jordan River. He preached that people should be ritually cleansed through baptism as an expression of changed lives for the forgiveness of sins. As Isaiah the prophet had said,

A solitary voice is calling:
“Go into the wilderness;
    prepare the road for the Eternal One’s journey.
In the desert, repair and straighten
    every mile of our True God’s highway.
Every low place will be lifted
    and every high mountain,
    every hill will be humbled;
The crooked road will be straightened out
    and rough places ironed out smooth;
Then the radiant glory of the Eternal One will be revealed.
    All flesh together will take it in.”[a]

In fulfillment of those words, crowds streamed out from the villages and towns to be baptized[b] by John at the Jordan.

John the Baptist: You bunch of venomous snakes! Who told you that you could escape God’s coming wrath? Don’t just talk of turning to God; you’d better bear the authentic fruit of a changed life. Don’t take pride in your religious heritage, saying, “We have Abraham for our father!” Listen—God could turn these rocks into children of Abraham!

God wants you to bear fruit! If you don’t produce good fruit, then you’ll be chopped down like a fruitless tree and made into firewood. God’s ax is taking aim and ready to swing!

People: 10 What shall we do to perform works from changed lives?

John the Baptist: 11 The person who has two shirts must share with the person who has none. And the person with food must share with the one in need.

12 Some tax collectors were among those in the crowd seeking baptism.[c]

Tax Collectors: Teacher, what kind of fruit is God looking for from us?

John the Baptist: 13 Stop overcharging people. Only collect what you must turn over to the Romans.

Soldiers: 14 What about us? What should we do to show true change?

John the Baptist: Don’t extort money from people by throwing around your power or making false accusations, and be content with your pay.

15 John’s bold message seized public attention, and many began wondering if John might himself be the Anointed One promised by God.

John the Baptist: 16 I baptize[d] you with water, but One is coming—One far more powerful than I, One whose sandals I am not worthy to untie—who will baptize[e] you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 He is coming like a farmer at harvesttime, tools in hand to separate the wheat from the chaff. He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire, and He will gather the genuine wheat into His barn.