Sunday 10 January 2016

Bible Book:

“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (v. 22)

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Sunday 10 January 2016

Psalm: Psalm 29


Luke's Gospel provides repeated links and parallel storiesbetween John the Baptist and Jesus. John's birth is foretold beforethat of Jesus (Luke 1:5-24), then John's birth and naming isdescribed before Jesus' in Bethlehem (Luke1:57-63), and here we have John's ministry being describedbefore Jesus arrives on the scene.

The description of the people listening to John being filledwith an expectation that he could be the long hoped for Messiah(verse 15) perhaps explains why the Gospel writer had taken so muchtime to link the two men. John was clearly a formidable figure andwith a significant following. His no nonsense fiery preaching, hiswillingness to challenge and confront the accepted norms and evenhis unusual appearance didn't seem to put people off, in fact quitethe reverse. People were drawn to this charismatic figure and hecarried a degree of authority as a result.

It was therefore important to have John's support and blessing,something the Gospel uses to make a solid foundation for Jesus' ownministry. However it goes further, and makes it clear that Jesus isto be greater than John. Whilst John may use water as the main toolof his trade, for Jesus it will be "the Holy Spirit and fire" (v.16), and whilst John may receive the assurance of the crowds whocome to listen to him and be baptised by him, Jesus receivesassurance from the voice of God (verse 22).

The suggestion that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit is atheme that will run through Luke and Acts. Jesus will repeat thispromise in Acts 1:5 and it will be seen to be fulfilledfor the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts2:1-4), for a group of Samaritans (Acts8:15-17), for Gentiles (non Jews) in Caesarea (Acts10:44-48) and even some of John's former disciples who, echoingthis reading, had been baptized with water but had not heard aboutthe Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7).

To Ponder

  • Jesus became aware of the voice from heaven whilst he waspraying, rather than during his Baptism as described in Mark'sGospel (Mark 1:10-11). Is this significant? Why?
  • How can we listen better for God's voice during prayer?
  • What signs have you seen of the Holy Spirit at work in thelives of others? And what impact does it have on those aroundthem?

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