Luke 3:14-16a

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

June 28, 2000


We’ve seen the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist.

His message was “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”, or, telling people to get baptized as a sign of their own repentance, the repentance leading to the forgiveness of sins.

As the people wanted to know more about what this all meant, he has been giving them examples of what they are to do.

To the “publicans”, Jewish tax collectors who worked for the Roman government, John told them to stop trying to get rich off their own people, but only collect what was appropriate.

:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely;

Roman soldiers were often brutal to citizens and would extort money from them.

do violencediaseio to shake thoroughly; to make to tremble; to terrify; to extort from one by intimidation money or other property

accuse any falselysukophanteo to accuse wrongfully, to attack by malicious devices; to exact money wrongfully; to extort from, defraud

A.T. Robertson: In Athens those whose business it was to inform against any one whom they might find exporting figs out of Attica were called fig-showers or sycophants (sukofantai). From sukon,  fig,  and fainw,  show.  From the time of Aristophanes on it was used for any malignant informer. These soldiers were tempted to obtain money by informing against the rich, blackmail again. So the word comes to mean to accuse falsely. The sycophants came to be a regular class of informers or slanderers in Athens. Socrates is quoted by Xenophon as actually advising Crito to employ one in self-defence, like the modern way of using one gunman against another. Demosthenes pictures a sycophant as one who “glides about the market like a scorpion, with his venomous sting all ready, spying out whom he may surprise with misfortune and ruin and from whom he can most easily extort money, by threatening him with an action dangerous in its consequences” (quoted by Vincent).


Don’t manipulate

I don’t know if some of us are aware of how we can tend to manipulate people.
We might not outright threaten blackmail, but we have learned to motivate people to action by giving threats.
A “threat” is generally something that you warn a person about, but something that you don’t really intend to carry out.  It’s a way of getting somebody to do what you want.
Example:  Your kids are being noisy and you threaten to rip their heads off if they don’t quiet down.

This seems harmless enough, until your kids stop responding to that threat and you have to move on to something bigger.

Better:  Don’t threaten with something that you don’t intend to follow through with.  Be sure to follow through when the threat alone doesn’t work.

Example:  A husband and wife are fighting.  He threatens to leave if their marriage doesn’t get better.

You may threaten with this from time to time when things get bad, never really meaning to leave the other person.  But what you do is begin to tear down the bond of trust that ought to be in a marriage.

The other person may end up feeling like they’re walking on eggshells because they never know when you’re going to bail out and leave.

One relationship where there is “threatening” is in the workplace.
(Eph 6:5-9 KJV)  Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; {6} Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; {7} With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: {8} Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Employees are to do their job as if they are serving the Lord, because they really are.  Don’t do things just to please people, do them to bring pleasure to the Lord.

The Lord knows what you’re doing, and will reward you for it.

{9} And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

Masters, bosses, you have a boss in heaven who is also the boss of your employees.  Those of you who choose to use “threatening”, know that God is paying attention, and that He is the one who is the REAL BOSS of your relationship and the other person.  God doesn’t even see YOU as more important than the other person.  God doesn’t see a real need for your ideas to be more important than the other person’s.

:14  and be content with your wages.

be contentarkeo to be possessed of unfailing strength; to be strong, to suffice, to be enough; to be satisfied, to be contented

This is the root of the problem.  Because a person isn’t content with what they have, they can do almost anything to pursue the lust for more.

Discouragement comes when you try to start with what you wish you had but don't have.  And it intensifies when you insist on trying to be in a position you are not in and probably never will be in.

-- Stuart Briscoe, Bound For Joy, Regal Books 1975, 1984, p. 95


The secret of contentment.

There are some things we should never be content with, such as where we are in our relationship with Jesus.  We should always be wanting more of the Lord. But there are some things we NEED to be content with.
(Phil 4:10-13 NASB)  But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. {11} Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. {12} I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. {13} I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

It’s a “secret” that can be “learned”.

It can be learned by depending on Jesus, it is the “all things” we can do through Him.

Sometimes we have to go through tough times to learn to be content with what we have.

Afflictions, when sanctified, make us grateful for mercies which before we treated with indifference. We sat for half an hour in a calf's shed the other day, quite grateful for the shelter from the driving rain, yet at no other time would we have entered such a hovel. Discontented people need a course of the bread of adversity and the water of affliction to cure them of the wretched habit of complaining. Even things which we loathed before, we shall learn to value when in troubling circumstances. We are not fond of lizards, and yet at Pont St. Martin, in the Aosta valley, where the mosquitoes, flies, and insects of all sorts drove us nearly to distraction, we prized the little green fellows, and felt quite an attachment to them as they darted out their tongues and devoured our worrying enemies. Sweet are the uses of adversity, and this among them--that it brings into proper estimation mercies which were before lightly esteemed.

-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)

:15-18  Is John the Messiah?

:15  all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not

museddialogizomai – to bring together different reasons, to reckon up the reasons, to reason, revolve in one’s mind, deliberate

Apparently John had quite a powerful ministry, one that caused others to come to the conclusion that he might be the Messiah.

We’re going to look at “humility” in a minute, but keep in mind that though John is a “humble” man, there must have been some pretty powerful things going on to have people come to these conclusions.

“Humble” does not mean “weak” or “ineffective”.

:16  one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose:

latchet – shoelace

John’s continuing humility.  He knew his place.  He would not allow people to adore him.


The man God uses is humble.

You see it over and over again in Scripture.
When God called Moses, Moses didn’t think he was worth it.

(Exo 3:11 NLT)  "But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?" Moses asked God. "How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"

When God called Gideon, Gideon didn’t feel worthy.

(Judg 6:15 NLT)  "But Lord," Gideon replied, "how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!"

When Saul first became king, he walked with the Lord, and he was humble.

(1 Sam 9:21 NLT)  Saul replied, "But I'm only from Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?"

God looks for humble people.  He works AGAINST proud people.
(1 Pet 5:5-6 NLT)  …And all of you, serve each other in humility, for "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble." {6} So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.
The best person to learn humility from is Jesus.
(Phil 2:3-8 NLT)  Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.

Humility is hard to detect.  It doesn’t draw attention to itself to say, “Look, I’m humble”.  A truly humble person is always drawing your attention to others.  This makes is harder to notice because they don’t want you noticing them.


In basketball, there is a statistic called “assists”.  This is when you throw the ball to another player so they can score the points.

Humility is helping others make the big play and get credit for the points.

{4} Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. {5} Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. {6} Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.

Humility means not demanding your own rights.

{7} He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.

Humility is shown by being a “servant” of others.


Another picture of humility is the “stunt double”.

Actor Kevin Bacon recounted when his 6-year-old son saw Footloose for the first time:

He said, “Hey, Dad, you know that thing in the movie where you swing from the rafters of that building? That’s really cool, how did you do that?”

I said, “Well, I didn’t do that part—it was a stunt man.”

“What’s a stunt man?” he asked.

“That’s someone who dresses like me and does things I can’t do.”

“Oh,” he replied and walked out of the room looking a little confused.

A little later he said, “Hey, Dad, you know that thing in the movie where you spin around on that gym bar and land on your feet? How did you do that?”

I said, “Well, I didn’t do that. It was a gymnastics double.”

“What’s a gymnastics double?” he asked.

“That’s a guy who dresses in my clothes and does things I can’t do.”

There was silence from my son, then he asked in a concerned voice, “Dad, what did you do?”

“I got all the glory,” I sheepishly replied.

-- Joel Sarrault in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

The humble servant is like the “stunt double” who makes another person look good.

{8} And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.

Humility is shown by obedience.

:16  he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost

This took place on Pentecost

baptizebaptizo to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk); to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe.  It does not mean to “sprinkle”.

Just as we are baptized, or “immersed” in water, Jesus would be “immersing” us in the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 1:4-5 KJV)  And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. {5} For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Jesus quoted John’s words.  The baptism of the Holy Ghost was called the “promise of the Father”.

(Acts 1:8 KJV)  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost was power, dunamis¸or “strength” or “ability”.

The baptism of the Holy Ghost is described as the Holy Ghost “coming upon” you.  It is the Holy Spirit overwhelming you.

One of the results of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the ability to be a witness.

(Acts 2:1-4 KJV)  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. {3} And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

It happened at a prayer meeting.

The baptism of the Holy Ghost is called the “filling” of the Holy Ghost.

They spoke with tongues.

Peter would stand up and give an incredible witness of Jesus, just as promised in Acts 1:8.

How can I have this?

(John 7:37-39 KJV)  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {39} (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Do you have a “thirst”?  Do you want the power of God in your life?
Come to Jesus.  He’s the one you’ll receive from, not a person or from an experience.  He is the one who baptizes.
John baptized in water, Jesus baptizes in the Holy Spirit.
Drink.  Believe.  Receive.
It’s a step of faith.  Asking Him and believing Him.
It’s not based on whether you feel anything or not, it’s based on whether you believe Him or not.