Luke and the Lost
What is the one message you would like to tell others? What is the one thing that is the most important thing you what your family and friends to know? What is our ONE Message?
John, the one who came to prepare the way of the Lord, was given ONE Message while in the dessert. John stays in the dessert and immediately proclaims the One Message he is given. John, an extremely focused individual, obeys, not turning to glance at anything else or consider other options. He was born for this opportunity and he knows it.
He preaches boldly, without fear of how the words will be accepted. It’s not about acceptance of him who speaks, but about the acceptance of the One Message of God for those who he has been assigned to preach. It is about salvation for the world before it is too late. He cries out to those who come to him to hear the One Message like no one they have ever heard before. It is time, God’s time, to speak to His people once more. He speaks as though he is working against a ticking clock, without any time to waste!
The One Message draws people from everywhere to come and hear…and be baptized to signify a change of heart. They come to him…IN the middle of nowhere, in the dessert! For most, It is an all day’s journey from the surrounding towns to see and hear John for themselves. But they don’t care, even if John’s words sting and cut to the core of their being, they must come. They can’t stay away. Even some of the “important” religious leaders come to here this One Message everyone is talking about. The leaders are appalled at his words. But it does not stop John from preaching the One Message God has given him.
What is the One Message? CHANGE YOUR LIFE, GET READY FOR JESUS!
Luke 3, The Message
A Baptism of Life-Change
3 1-6 In the fifteenth year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius—it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee; his brother Philip, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, ruler of Abilene; during the Chief-Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—John, Zachariah’s son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God. He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins, as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet:
Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
Every ditch will be filled in,
Every bump smoothed out,
The detours straightened out,
All the ruts paved over.
Everyone will be there to see
The parade of God’s salvation.”
7-9 When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as ‘father.’ Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.”
10 The crowd asked him, “Then what are we supposed to do?”
11 “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”
12 Tax men also came to be baptized and said, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He told them, “No more extortion—collect only what is required by law.”
14 Soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He told them, “No shakedowns, no blackmail—and be content with your rations.”
15 The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, “Could this John be the Messiah?”
16-17 But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”
18-20 There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message! But Herod, the ruler, stung by John’s rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail.
21-22 After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
John, cousin to Jesus, born only a few month before Jesus, prepared the people for the ONE AND ONLY who would take the One Message that was given to John to even greater, eternal heights…to the Cross of Salvation for ALL. The baton is passed from John to Jesus. The One John told the people about is now going to tell the world what the Father in Heaven has told him. He will do nothing but what the Father tells him to do. He will explain God’s true intentions of how much He loves us and how we should love others. Then ultimately, He will take my sin, your sin and the sins of the world onto his body and bear the punishment we all deserve. He will defeat the enemy, once and for all. He will rise up from death, go back to the Father and prepare places in heaven for all of us who believe. The outcome of the One Message is the complete forgiveness of our sin…our debt paid in full.
Tears. No more words. Breath this all in. Be grateful.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.