Luke 3:1-6 Preparing the way

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If a royal visit is to take place, all necessary preparations have to be made.  Not to prepare adequately would be to dishonour the visitor.  The same was true in the ancient world.  Indeed, for the arrival of some great dignitary a road might even have to be constructed.  What if the Coming One is God himself?  We turn now to consider Luke 3:1-6 Preparing the way

1. Located in history

For some 30 years the Messiah has been developing and maturing in private.  Our only glimpse is his visit to the temple at age 12 (2:41-52).  No longer will that be the case.  With the preparatory ministry of John the Baptist, the arrival of the Messiah becomes public.  Events are firmly located in history (v1-2), probably around AD 25-26.  All the significant secular and religious leaders are listed.  The events of the ministries of John and Jesus take place on the stage of world history – this is not hearsay, much less myth or legend.  Note:

            (i). Luke is a fine historian.  Where his information can be tested, he always passes the test – note ‘carefully investigated’ (1:3).  The proven reliability of Acts gives us confidence in his Gospel record.  Christians need have no fear when historical evidence regarding the Bible is investigated.  We are dealing with real events, God’s work in history.

            (ii). God is a sovereign God.  He has prepared for this moment from eternity.  His plan has unfolded through the centuries, including the fate of nations and the lives of individuals.  All is now ready, and the actions of the people listed here are under his direction – they do ‘what your power and will decided beforehand should happen’ (Acts 4:28)

2. Preaching a baptism

In this prepared setting, the Lord moves – ‘the word of the Lord came to John’ (v2).  This is John’s call to be a prophet of the Lord.  The voice of prophecy, silent for 400 years is again heard from Zechariah, Simeon, Anna and especially John – the Messiah is about to be revealed.  These are the ‘last days’ (Hebrews 1:2), the definitive time of salvation.

            The word is central to John’s ministry – baptism follows from it.  It is a word that demands a response.  His baptism (v3) is a radical message, calling Jews as well as Gentiles, shocking Jews who may well have thought they did not need this.  All need the Messiah’s work.  The core issue is repentance, sorrow for sins as an offence against God, leading to forgiveness.  Baptism is the outward sign of an inner change effected by God’s grace.

3. Calling in the desert

John, as the last of the OT prophets, announces the fulfilment of prophecy in his ministry.  He quotes in v4 from Isaiah 40:3-5.  John is ‘the voice’, 700 years after Isaiah wrote.  Isaiah’s call to prepare for the Lord to deliver his people from exile foreshadows the Messiah’s coming to deliver from sin (v6).  All obstacles will be removed, as roads are prepared for an important visitor (v5).  Note ‘all mankind’ (v6) – there is a universality in the Good News.  The work of the Messiah is for sinners of all kinds – words full of hope for needy sinners.

Wisdom Calls – Proverbs 8

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In this passage Wisdom is calling out. A cry like this would usually indicate some sort of loss, hurt or danger. However, Wisdom doesn’t cry because of any danger she is facing, but because of the danger that we are in. Wisdom is calling to us for we are in danger and this danger could have eternal consequences if not addressed. Two questions we must consider then;

  1. Are we aware of the warning?
  2. Are we responding to the warning?

As Wisdom calls, it’s worth investigating the true identity of Wisdom, those that Wisdom addresses and finally the offer that Wisdom gives to those who listen.

  1. The Identity of Wisdom

If we look at the claims of Wisdom in Proverbs 8 we can get clues regarding the true identity of our speaker. Spoiler – it is Christ who calls. Some of the clues are:

  1. Wisdom is the authority of authorities. (vv. 15-16)
  2. Wisdom is eternal (v. 23)
  3. Wisdom witnessed creation and was an agent in creation (vv. 27 & 30)

These clues all align with what Colossians 1:16-17 says of Christ. Christ calls – are we listening?

2. Those Addressed by Wisdom

Wisdom calls to all mankind (v. 4). The call of Wisdom is addressed to us. It is a call from Christ to men, women and children – all mankind. If you look at where Wisdom calls then you can see even more of the width of Christ’s call. We see it is in the high places, along the pathways and at the gates to the city. Christ calls in the high and lofty places but also the common places. This call is for us and for us in all our areas of living, work and travel. This address from Christ is meant to meet us wherever we are – it is the most relevant address that we could hear. Christ is calling to us, wherever we are. It is tremendous condescension by him and we should take notice and listen to what he offers.

3. The Offer of Wisdom

Wisdom offers itself. Christ offers himself. It’s not just an offer of intelligence, but life (v. 35). He is the one who has walked the way of righteousness (v. 20) and so he can offer life to us. This is the work he was appointed to do and he delights in humanity and saving humanity (vv. 23, 31). Those receiving Christ receive life. If we seek him then we will find him as (v. 17) assures. Failure to take up this offer will do harm to us (v. 36). Those rejecting Christ’s offer are rejecting life and holding to their own wisdom which is foolishness. They cling to their sin instead of Christ.

If you are a believer then be encouraged, you have this life that is offered and favour from the Lord. The world may mock Christianity but taking up the offer of Christ is the wisest thing you can do. Keep enjoying that life offered, keep following that same wisdom and be like those who diligently wait upon Wisdom in (vv. 33-34). Hearing and obeying the words and example of Christ will have a sanctifying and encouraging effect upon us and will prepare us more for that final day.

Matthew Magee

Luke 2:41-52 In His Father’s house

The first 30 years of Jesus’ life are passed over almost in silence by the Gospels.  We would of course love to know more about those years, especially his family life.  Some were tempted in earlier times to fill in this gap with imagination and invention in various ‘apocryphal’ gospels.  In the NT only one event is recorded and so it must be particularly important.  We turn now to consider Luke 2:41-52 In His Father’s house

1. A godly family

We have here a precious glimpse of Jesus’ early family life.  ‘Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover’ (v41) – these are people of faith, like the psalmist in Psalm 122, a pilgrim psalm for those going up for such occasions.  These are people who delight in the presence of God and the worship he prescribes.  It was in such a family that the Messiah was placed, with the godly example of his parents.  He was raised in a context of living faith.  It is significant that this is the Feast of the Passover (instituted by God in Exodus 12-13), celebrating the deliverance of his people by the shedding of the blood of the lamb, and now the fulfilment of Passover has come, with ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29) present in the temple.

2. A unique Son

On the return journey to Nazareth – disaster – they discover Jesus is not with them.  When 3 days have passed, they find him ‘in the temple courts’ (v46).  Note regarding Jesus:

            (i). He is a learner.  ‘sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions’ (v46).  We see the growing boy is a learner – there is no suggestion he is disputing with the teachers.  His human mind needs to be nurtured and educated – only his divine mind knows all things.  It is evident that there is something different about him – ‘amazed at his understanding and his answers’ (v47), but not such that any thought of him as more than a 12-year-old child of striking ability.

            (ii). He is the Son.  Mary, relieved and stressed, rebukes him (v48).  Jesus’ response (v49) indicates he expected them to know where to find him.  The crucial statement is in v49b ‘Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house? (less likely – ‘about my Father’s business’).  Joseph fills the role of father, but Jesus has another, greater ‘Father’.  Even at this early stage in his life Jesus has a profound awareness of:

            a relationship that he bears to God.  We glimpse his unique relationship to the Father.

            a task that he is to perform.  He has a mission to fulfil – the Father’s plan (John 4:34).

3. An abundant blessing

We have a brief glimpse of family life at home in v51-52.  The focus is on Jesus – both parents fade from the record, Joseph probably dying soon and Mary mentioned again by Luke only in 8:19-21.  His brothers did not believe until after the resurrection.  We have a significant description of Jesus’ human development – he ‘grew in wisdom and stature’ – true humanity evident.  Also ‘in favour with God and man’ – like Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26) and see also Proverbs 3:4.  The Messiah is grace filled for the work he has been sent to do.