Bible Study: Luke, Chapter Three
Transcript: Today we are going to continue our interactive Bible study and are going to cover Luke Chapter 3. After the meeting today, or sometime this week, please take the matching Quiz on Luke Chapter 3 that I have put together on the website. It is on the right hand side and has been updated to match this teaching.
Thanks to all that have taken last weeks quiz. I figure that if you can answer 20 questions about a single chapter, then you have a fairly good overview of what is in there. Last week we had around 24 participants, and 8 people scored a perfect 100. I would encourage you to follow along in your own Bible, and make notes. Don’t be afraid to underline things in your Bible. It is a study book, not a sacred artifact.
Luke Chapter 3 WEB: 1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
Luke tells us that this was in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, which the best guess is between 27 to 29 A.D., listing the political leaders of the time that Jesus lived in: Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, and Lysanias,
Like a good historian, Luke gave a real, historical framework. It is not a fairy tale beginning with “once upon a time.” It also gives us some insight on the type of government that they lived under:
* Tiberius was an emperor known for his cruelty and severity.
* Pontius Pilate was also known for his brutal massacres of the Jewish people in Judea, and his insensitivity towards the Jews.
* The rulers from the family of Herod the Great (Herod, Philip, and Lysanias) were known for their corruption and cruelty.
The historical reality of these rulers is authentic. Archaeologists have discovered specific, undeniable evidence that these people lived and ruled in these places, and at these times. When Herod the Great died, he divided his kingdom among his three sons: Herod, Philip, and Lysanias. The title tetrarch literally means governor of a fourth part … though later the word came to mean the governor of any part.
2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
Caiaphas and Annas: Luke lists the religious leaders of Judea in the period of Jesus’ ministry. Caiaphas was the High Priest, but his father-in-law Annas was the real influence among the priestly class. Both of these men were known for their corruption. The Jewish leaders of the time were more interested in power politics than in serving God.
Keep in mind that God had not spoken in about 400 years. There is a long gap of silence between the book of Malachi, and the appearance of Gabriel in the temple. Men in general, when left alone, begin to look out for number one. We need that relationship to keep us in line.
The word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias in the wilderness: John had lived in the desert since his youth. But now, prompted by the word of God, John began to fulfill his calling: to prepare the way for the Messiah.
It is interesting that the word of the Lord came to John, not to the high priests or the religious leaders of the time. Isn’t that funny? We build an entire infrastructure to house God, train people to act as His priests, and He appears somewhere else outside of our control.
As we will see moving forward through the book of Luke, organized religion and God often have little in common, and sometimes even oppose each other. Too many times it becomes power, pride, and money verses servitude, humility, and trust.
3 He came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for remission of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight. 5 Every valley will be filled. Every mountain and hill will be brought low. The crooked will become straight, and the rough ways smooth. 6 All flesh will see God’s salvation.’ ”
John preached all around the Jordan river where there was plenty of water for baptizing people. The Jordan river is about 156 miles long and spans from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. This is the same river that the Israelites crossed into the promised land.
Luke connected John the Baptist with the one prophesied by Isaiah in chapter 40:3. John himself was aware of this calling from his early days, because his father Zacharias was aware of it from before his birth.
Prepare the way of the LORD: John’s great message was that things can be set right. The Messiah is here to do things that are too big for man: to fill the valleys, level the mountains, set the crooked roads straight and to make the rough roads smooth.
The Jews at that time thought that the problem was mainly the Romans who politically oppressed them. John made them see that when you got right down to it, the problem was really with them, not with the Romans. He made it personal, that they had to get right with God themselves.
John preached a call to repentance. Some people think that repentance is mostly about feelings, especially feeling sorry for your sin. While you may feel sorry about your sin, repent isn’t a “feelings” word. It is an action word. John told the people to make a change, not to merely to feel sorry for what they had done. Repentance means a change of direction, not feeling sorrow in your heart. You can feel bad about something, and yet continue to do it. Repentance means “Stop doing it.”
Baptism by water, symbolized spiritual cleansing from sin, which is the result of forgiveness. Gentiles who wished to become Jews underwent baptism. What is remarkable, is that the Jews listening to John let him baptize them. That was saying that they were as bad as the heathen gentiles. To put it simply, the theme of John’s preaching was that the age of the Messiah had come, and that we all need to get right with God, regardless of who we were born as.
7 He said therefore to the multitudes who went out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore produce fruits worthy of repentance, and don’t begin to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the ax also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.”
You could say that John was a bit weird. Talk about going against the grain. He lived in the desert, wore funny clothes, ate grasshoppers and wild honey. He called the people that came to hear him a family of snakes and basically asked them: “Why are you here anyway?” This was not an easy message to hear, but the crowds came because he was anointed and they hungered for the truth, the real thing.God uses some weird people. John was a not a polished man in a thousand dollar suit with a $200 hair cut. Most people would have found him offensive.
Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’: John warned them that being a part of Abraham’s lineage was not enough for salvation. At the time it was taught that just being a part of Abraham’s family was plenty for any Jew’s salvation, and that it was impossible for any descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to go to hell. John didn’t believe that. He wanted to see some fruit in their lives, like love for others.
10 The multitudes asked him, “What then must we do?” 11 He answered them, “He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise.”
John’s instructions were nothing out of the ordinary. He demanded that people share, that they be fair with each other, and that they not be mean and cruel, that they be happy with what they get. These are things we teach the smallest children. As Robert Fulghum wrote: “All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten.”
It is interesting that integrity in the ordinary things is still a mark of true repentance. We sometimes think God requires us to do great or impossible things to demonstrate our repentance. Often He instead looks for integrity in the ordinary things that we do. (Micah 6:8) reads: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what must we do?” 13 He said to them, “Collect no more than that which is appointed to you.”
The Romans auctioned the right to collect taxes to the highest bidder. Because the tax collector would often make a profit by getting as much as they could, these men were hated intensely. John had nothing against them being a tax collector, he did not tell them to quit, he simply told them to be fair and to collect no more taxes than they should.
14 Soldiers also asked him, saying, “What about us? What must we do?” He said to them, “Extort from no one by violence, neither accuse anyone wrongfully. Be content with your wages.”
Again, John did not see being a soldier as inherently evil. He simply told them to not intimidate anyone or accuse them falsely, and to be content with their wages. Do the job properly.
15 As the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he was the Christ, 16 John answered them all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, 17 whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor, and will gather the wheat into his barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John caused such a stir in the area that the people began to wonder if he was the Messiah, and rightly so. John pointed to Jesus who was coming, “One mightier than I. Whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” The rabbis of Jesus’ day taught that a teacher might require just about anything of his followers, except to have them take off his sandals. That was considered too humiliating to demand. Yet John said that he was not even worthy to do this for Jesus.
John was both strict and humble, a rare combination. In religious circles you tend to see the strict lifted up in pride, and looking down on others. Or the opposite, greasy grace where anything goes. John was a hybrid with the best of both parts.
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”: John said that the Messiah was coming and bringing a different baptism. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit would come with Jesus, and His fire would purify them.
18 Then with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people, 19 but Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done, 20 added this also to them all, that he shut up John in prison.
John was a bold man, and not much of a respecter of a person’s social status. John rebuked Herod and his relationship with Herodias. Their relationship was both complicated and sinful. He was her uncle, and he had stolen her from his half-brother. So in marrying Herodias, Herod married a woman that was both his niece, and his sister-in-law. By criticizing them, John had made an enemy.
The historian Josephus said that the real reason for the arrest was that Herod feared that John would start a rebellion and overthrow him, for the people seemed ready to do anything that he would tell them.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying. The sky was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him; and a voice came out of the sky, saying “You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased.”
One day, in the midst of the crowd, Jesus came to be baptized. Jesus did not receive baptism because He was a sinner that needed to repent and be cleansed from His sins. He did it to completely identify Himself with sinful man. He was raised as one of us. Jesus lived in Nazareth, he traveled to the Jordan river to be baptized by John, then the Holy Spirit led Him into the desert to fast for 40 days.
A voice came from heaven: the three Persons of the Trinity were all manifested at once. The Holy Spirit came in bodily form like a dove. The voice of God the Father was heard, and the Son was baptized. There was some visible, tangible evidence that the Holy Spirit had come upon Jesus. A similar thing happened with the apostles when something like tongues of fire appeared over their heads on the day of Pentecost in the upper room. All this happened while Jesus was praying. He was a man of prayer even before His ministry began.
“You are My beloved Son” is from Psalm 2:7 which speaks of the coming Messiah. “In You I am well pleased” is from Isaiah 42:7, which speaks of Jesus as the suffering Servant. Jesus began His ministry with the blessing of the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit. We can still experience the same today.
23 Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years old, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,
Jesus was about thirty years old then. This seems to have been the age of full maturity in the Jewish mind. According to (Numbers 4:2–3) Priests were to begin their service at 30.
The genealogies listed in Luke and Matthew differ from King David onward, but they both end with Joseph. The best explanation for this seems to be that Luke followed Mary’s family line while Matthew followed Joseph’s family line. Mary’s line was His actual family being that she conceived by the Holy Spirit. This was Luke’s point in his phrase: “being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.”
Luke traces the line of Jesus all the way back to Adam. Genealogies were a very important aspect of Jewish culture and most people were aware of their descendants, even today. The rest of the chapter is the son of, the son of, who was the son of, which you can read but I am going to stop here.
24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Aram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.