Sunday 13 December 2009

Bible Book:

"As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah." (v.15)

Luke 3:7-18 Sunday 13 December 2009


Luke begins chapter 3 with a list of dates, names and places. Hewants to present the facts of these events as clearly as possiblebecause the generation that had witnessed them was dying out.Behind these details is a story of human suffering.

The people of Israel in the 1st century AD are part of the RomanEmpire and they are being ruled by fear and oppression. They longfor a new leader, the Messiah ('anointed one'), through whom Godwould rescue them. This leader would rule for ever and not onlyover Israel, but the whole world.

When John the Baptist appeared saying the time had come when Godwould act, the people were ready to listen. But it wasn't just thepolitical situation that needed to be transformed; the peopleneeded to change too. John tells them they need to 'repent',literally 'turn back' to God. Those who do so are baptised, plungedinto water, as an outward sign of an internal change.

Baptism is just the beginning. When the people ask John, "Whatshould we do?" he tells them. No one should have more than theyneed, otherwise the rich would keep on getting richer and the poorwould become poorer. But John isn't only a moral reformer - he isannouncing the arrival of the Messiah. He is the true ruler of thepeople and he will come as both judge and saviour. The people mighthave hoped John was the one, but he makes it clear that he'snothing compared to he who is on his way.

Talk of a new leader threatens the people's actual ruler, HerodAntipas (the son of the famous Herod the Great). He had hoped toinherit his father's title - king of the Jews. But John denouncesHerod's actions, including adultery. This isn't just because theyare morally wrong, but because they show he isn't the true king ofthe Jews. The coming Messiah is. John spoke out against Herod andtook the consequences (Matthew14:6-12).

To Ponder

The message of John the Baptist wasn't an easyone, and yet the crowds flocked to him. How would you haveresponded?

If John were to come down your street with amegaphone, what might he say?

John spoke out against Herod, the ruler ofGalilee. What do you think is the relationship between faith andpolitics?

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