Morning Bible Study
Israel – we are still not sure about the trip – if you are interested in
going though, please let me know. We
will try to figure things out this week.
Easter is only 3 weeks away:
I think there are some folks who might actually come to church if you would
We’ve got lots in the works –Good Friday noon communion; Easter Sunrise (7
am), Breakfast (8 am), Morning services (9 & 11am) with the kids
performing, bounce houses, etc.
Luke was a doctor and a travelling companion of the apostle Paul.
He wrote this book while Paul was in prison.
In writing his book, Luke made use of other older documents like the Gospel
of Mark, as well as extensive eyewitness accounts.
3:1-6 John begins
:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius
Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother
Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch
:2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John
the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
Luke, being the thorough historian that he is, gives us the date when John
the Baptist began his ministry.
:1 the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar
Tiberius was emperor of Rome from AD 14-37.
The fifteenth year would be AD 29.
:1 Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea
Pilate was appointed the Roman governor
of Judea by Tiberias and governed from AD 26-36.
He was in charge of the army of
occupation, kept the taxes flowing to Rome, had power of life and death over
his subjects, and appointed the high priests.
:1 Herod … tetrarch of Galilee
A tetrarch was the ruler of one quarter of a Roman province.
Herod (Herod Antipas) was one of the sons of Herod the Great. He ruled the area of Galilee and Perea from 4
BC to AD 39.
:1 Philip … Iturea … Trachonitis
Philip was another son (one of seven) of Herod the Great.
The Herod family was quite complicated.
This is actually Philip II, who was married to Salome, the daughter of
Another brother, Philip I, was married to Herodias.
Herod Antipas got into trouble with Philip I when he stole his wife
The Herod family reminds me of that old Ray Stevens’ song “I’m my own
Philip II ruled the area east of the Jordan from 4 BC until AD 34.
:1 Lysanias … Abilene
We don’t know much about Lysania, but this Abilene isn’t in Texas, it’s
northwest of Damascus.
:1 Annas and Caiaphas
Annas was high priest from AD 6 - 15, until he was deposed by the Roman
Eventually his son-in-law Caiaphas was made high priests (AD 18-36), though
the Jews continued to recognize Annas as the rightful high priest.
You will see Jesus stand on “trial” before both Annas and Caiaphas.
Annas and Caiphas had made the priesthood a prosperous business.
:2 the word of God came to John
The word of God didn’t come to Annas and Caiaphas in the temple. It came to John in the wilderness.
It’s been a long time since there was a prophet, something like 400
years. The last prophet to speak was
:3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism
of repentance for the remission of sins,
:3 the region around the Jordan
John spent most of his time in the area of the southern Jordan River.
Video: Jordan Qumran Baptism map
The area that John baptized was down the mountain from Jerusalem in the
Jordan valley. This is close to the area
of Qumran, where the community of the Dead Sea Scrolls had a preacher in their
community named John.
It’s also near the city of Jericho.
:3 preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins
baptism – baptisma – immersion,
John was called the “Baptist” because he baptized people.
The practice of baptism involved immersing the entire person in water.
It was not a foreign idea to Jews.
Their word for it is “mikvah”
When you go to Israel, you will see these “mikvaoth” in just about every archaeological dig in the area.
The practice was about a ritual “washing”, not for physical cleanliness,
but for spiritual cleansing.
repentance – metanoia – a
change of mind
Some of us have our own definition of “repent” based on what church we
might have grown up in.
Some of us think that “repentance” means crying buckets of tears. Not necessarily.
Some of us think repentance involves doing certain deeds in order to earn
It may likely involve actions, but it is something that
starts in the mind.
John’s practice was to baptize people who were intent on changing their
mind about God and about their own lives.
remission – aphesis – release
from bondage; forgiveness or pardon
Forgiveness comes from repentance, not baptism.
Baptism is a way of expressing what is happening on the inside, but it’s
not the washing of water that actually gives you forgiveness.
Peter talked about Noah being saved through the Flood as a picture of
(1 Peter 3:21 NLT) And that
water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from
your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience…
Forgiveness comes from what is happening in your heart.
The outward ritual of baptism is simply a picture of what
has happened on the inside.
We do not believe that you are saved by a certain amount of holy water
touching your body.
You are saved when you put your trust in Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice to
That doesn’t mean that baptism isn’t important.
Jesus commanded us to be baptized.
NKJV) —19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching
them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you
always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
We practice baptism because Jesus commanded us to be baptized.
We tend to do this about once a year out on the back lawn at the end of the
:4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.
:5 Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought
low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth;
:6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”
:4 the words of Isaiah the prophet
When John had been born, his father Zacharias had prophesied that he was
going to fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah (Lk 1:76)
Now Luke gives reminds us of this prophecy (Is. 40:3-4) and quotes it.
:4 Prepare the way of the Lord
The language is that of fixing the potholes and sinkholes in the roads for
the coming of your king.
Ready for God
The preparation for the Messiah wasn’t about repairing roads. It was about repairing people.
If you want to see God work in your life, you ought to consider these
If you are in the valley of despair, God wants to fill you. Jesus said,
(John 7:37–38 NKJV)
—37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood
and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who
believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of
If you think that you are a mountain of hot stuff, and God is lucky to have
you, then perhaps you need to be humbled.
(James 4:10 NKJV) Humble
yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
If you are living a crooked life, or are a little rough around the edges, you
need to get ready to straighten things out.
This is what repentance is all about.
If you are going in the wrong direction, you will need to turn around.
Do you want to see God at work in your life?
Pay attention to these things.
3:7-14 John’s Message
:7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him,
“Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
:8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to
yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God
is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
:7 brood of vipers
vipers – echidna – a viper
As I was looking at this word, I found something interesting.
There is an animal today called an “echidna”
(spiny anteater), it was actually named after the Greek mythological creature
named “Echidna”, who was half nymph
and half snake, and was known as the “mother of all monsters”. She gave birth to many legendary Greek
I don’t know if John was aware of this, but it makes me wonder if John could
be calling them “monsters” (offspring of the Echidna)
However he meant it, it doesn’t sound like a great way to flatter or gain
:7 the wrath to come
Part of John’s message was about reminding people that there will be a
:8 bear fruits worthy of repentance
Some of us have people in our lives who struggle with addiction.
We need to be careful that we don’t get too excited when they learn to say
the right words, like “I’m sorry”.
Some people think that all they need to do is to say the
right words, because that’s what you respond to.
What counts is actual change.
Just like John, it’s okay to remind them of that fact.
It’s no different in our relationship with God.
God appreciates it when you “say” you’re sorry.
But what really impresses Him is when you actually take steps to change.
People can get caught up in the emotions of a meeting. God doesn’t care as much for your emotions as
much as He does for a true change in you.
It doesn’t matter how high you jump in church, or how emotional you get, but
how straight you walk afterwards.
:8 children to Abraham from these stones
The Jews felt that they were already special to God simply because they
were descendants of Abraham.
John confronted them by saying that God could make children of Abraham from
stones if He wanted to.
By the way – there are a LOT of stones in Israel. There is nothing special about stones in
Don’t be too proud of your spiritual heritage.
It’s nice if you come from a family that serves God.
Yet what’s important to God is that YOU believe and serve God.
:9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every
tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
:9 every tree which does not bear good fruit
A farmer doesn’t plant fig trees just for shade. He plants them to produce figs.
A fig tree that doesn’t grow figs is just taking up space, so it is cut
There is going to be a day when it is too late to be playing games with
It is not okay to just come to church to impress people that you are a nice
God wants to actually come into your life and work in you.
:10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
:10 What shall we do then?
John has the people’s attention.
They want to know what “repentance” actually looks like.
God’s word is immensely practical.
Coming to church is not about learning Bible trivia or singing nice songs.
It’s about learning how to live.
:11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to
him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”
:11 let him give to him who has none
God wants us to care for the poor.
:12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him,
“Teacher, what shall we do?”
:13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”
:12 tax collectors
Tax collectors for the most part were Jews employed by the Romans to
They were required to exact at least a certain amount from every person,
and everything they exacted over the minimum they could keep.
Tax collectors were hated by the people because they tended to take
advantage of people and take way more than was required by Rome.
John is preaching around the area of the Jordan River.
The nearest city to this area of the Jordan River was Jericho.
A chief tax collector that lived in Jericho was named Zacchaeus.
I wonder if Zacchaeus heard John preach.
By the time Jesus would come to Jericho, Zacchaeus was ready and knew what
19:8 NKJV) Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half
of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false
accusation, I restore fourfold.”
:14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he
said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with
:14 the soldiers asked him
These are probably Jewish Temple guards rather than Roman soldiers since
they are asking the Jewish prophet for advice.
:14 Do not intimidate
It’s not hard for a person in authority to bully or take advantage of those
within their sphere of influence.
I don’t know if some of us are aware of
how we manipulate others.
Sometimes we motivate people to action
by giving threats.
By “threaten”, I mean you promise to do
something, but you don’t really intend to carry out. It’s a way of getting somebody to do what you
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.
A husband and wife are fighting. She threatens to leave if their marriage
doesn’t get better.
Don’t threaten what
you don’t intend to follow through with.
All you do is end up
causing increasing damage to a marriage with hurtful words.
Sometimes it’s the “boss” that resorts
NKJV) And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening,
knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with
Bosses, you have a
boss in heaven who also happens to be the real boss of your employees.
Those of you who
choose to use empty, loud “threats” to intimidate need to remember that God is
God cares for your
employees just as much as He does you.
:14 be content with your wages
It’s a hard thing to be content with what you have.
The Madison Avenue advertising agencies make their money by helping you
think that you need more of whatever they are selling.
I was watching the Apple event last week where they were previewing their
new products and began to think I needed this…
Always wanting “more” gets us into trouble.
A man is walking down the beach and comes across an old bottle. He picks it
up, pulls out the cork and out pops a genie. The genie says, “Thank you for
freeing me from the bottle. In return I
will grant you three wishes.” The man says “Great! I always dreamed of this and
I know exactly what I want. First, I
want one billion dollars in a Swiss bank account.” Poof! There is a flash of
light and a piece of paper with account numbers appears in his hand. He
continues, “Next, I want a brand new red Ferrari right here.” Poof! There is a flash of light and a bright
red brand-new Ferrari appears right next to him. He continues, “Finally, I want to be
irresistible to women.” Poof! There is a flash of light and he turns into a box
From time to time you will hear a professional athlete share how much they
like Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”. I think it’s a good idea to see what Paul was
talking about. He was writing to the
Philippians about their financial support for him…
NIV) —11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be
content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have
plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all
this through him who gives me strength.
It’s a hard thing to be “content” in your circumstances.
When you are low in funds, you are aware of your need for
Yet even the wealthy man is rarely satisfied.
God wants us to learn the “secret” of being content with what we have.
I have a sneaking suspicion that we learn that “secret” when we learn the
He is all we need.
If I have Jesus, I am going to be okay.