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Luke 3:1-14

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 15, 2015


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words  Video=75wpm

Samuel’s dedication

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 invite them. 

Video:  An Offer You Can’t Refuse

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 of Abilene,

: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.

This is the year when John the Baptist begins his public ministry.

: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.  His headquarters were in Tiberius.

: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 Herodias.
Another brother, Philip I, was married to Herodias.
Herod Antipas got into trouble with Philip I when he stole his wife (Herodias).
The Herod family reminds me of that old Ray Stevens’ song “I’m my own grandpa”.
Video:  I’m My Own Grandpa

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 authorities.

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

wordrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word

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 Malachi.
It reminds me of the time of Samuel:
(1 Samuel 3:1 NKJV) Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.

God is looking to use those who will be open to Him.

:1 John the son of Zacharias

We are already familiar with John’s family from Luke 1.

: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 clip

It has been suggested that John chose this area because he will be identified in some fashion with Elijah, and it was here that Elijah spent his last moments on earth, near the Jordan and near Jericho, before being taken to heaven in a chariot of fire (2Ki. 2:1-13).

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

baptismbaptisma – immersion, submersion

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.

There was one in the house of the high priest.

There were many of these underneath the steps leading into the Temple.

The folks in Qumran had several of these around their community.

The practice was about a ritual “washing”, not for physical cleanliness, but for spiritual cleansing.

repentancemetanoia – 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 forgiveness.

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.

remissionaphesis – 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 baptism:
(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 save you.
That doesn’t mean that baptism isn’t important.
Jesus commanded us to be baptized.
(Matthew 28:19–20 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 summer.
It is a beautiful time to proclaim to others that you are following Jesus.

: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)

(Luke 1:76 NKJV) “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,

Now Luke gives reminds us of this prophecy (Is. 40:3-4) and quotes it.

(Isaiah 40:3–4 NKJV) —3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth;

:4 one cryingboao – to raise a cry, of joy pain etc.; to cry, speak with a high, strong voice

:4 wildernesseremos – solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited; a desert, wilderness

:4 preparehetoimazo – to make ready, prepare; to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready; drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable

:4 straighteuthus – straight, level; straight forward, upright, true, sincere

:5 filledpleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full

:5 brought lowtapeinoo – to make low, bring low; to humble or abase myself by humble living

:5 crookedskolios – crooked, curved

:5 made straighteuthus – straight, level; straight forward, upright, true, sincere

:5 roughtrachus – rough, rocky

:5 smoothleios – smooth, level

: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.

Video:  Sinkhole swallows car
John didn’t come to prepare an actual road, but to prepare hearts.


Ready for God

The preparation for the Messiah wasn’t about repairing roads.  It was about repairing people.
Things that are too low are to be filled.
Things that are too lofty are to be humbled.
Things that are crooked are made straight.
Things that are rough are smoothed out.
If you want to see God work in your life, you ought to consider these things.
If you are in the valley of despair, God wants to fill you.  Jesus said,
(Matthew 5:6 NKJV) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
(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 living water.”
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 4:6 NKJV) —6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
(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 the multitudesochlos – a crowd; a throng; a multitude

:7 broodgennema – that which has been born or begotten

:7 brood of vipers

Jesus used the same phrase twice when He was addressing the hypocritical religious leaders. (Mat. 12:34; 23:33)

(Matthew 12:34 NKJV) Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
(Matthew 23:33 NKJV) Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

vipersechidna – 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 monsters.
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 followers.

:7 warnedhupodeiknumi – to show by placing under (i.e. before) the eyes; to show by words and arguments, i.e. to teach; to show by make known future things

:7 the wrath to come

Part of John’s message was about reminding people that there will be a judgment.

:8 bear fruits worthy of repentance

repentancemetanoia – a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done


Prove it

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 Israel.

Don’t be too proud of your spiritual heritage.

It’s nice if you come from a family that serves God.
It’s nice if you come from a long line of Baptist preachers.
Yet what’s important to God is that YOU believe and serve God.

Jesus said something very similar.

(Luke 19:37–40 NKJV) —37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

: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 down.

(Mark 11:20–21 NKJV) —20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”

(John 15:5–6 NKJV) —5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

There is going to be a day when it is too late to be playing games with God.

It is not okay to just come to church to impress people that you are a nice guy.
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.

On the day of Pentecost, this was the same question the people asked after Peter was explaining the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and preaching about Jesus dying for our sins.

(Acts 2:37–38 NKJV) —37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

: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 tunicschiton – a tunic, an undergarment, usually worn next to the skin, a garment, a vestment

:11 let him give to him who has none

God wants us to care for the poor.

Isaiah was speaking to people who were thinking they were impressing God with their fasting, when other things were more important.

(Isaiah 58:7 NKJV) Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him…

: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 collectorstelones – a tax gatherer, collector of taxes or tolls, one employed by a publican or farmer general in the collection of taxes. The tax collectors were as a class, detested not only by the Jews, but by other nations also, both on account of their employment and of the harshness, greed, and deception, with which they did their job.

:13 collectprasso – to exercise, practice, to be busy with, carry on; to manage public affairs, transact public business; to exact tribute, revenue, debts

:13 appointeddiatasso – to arrange, appoint, ordain, prescribe, give order

:12 tax collectors

Tax collectors for the most part were Jews employed by the Romans to collect taxes.

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.
They were the entrepreneurs of the day.

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 to do.

(Luke 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.”

Several years after John’s preaching…

(Luke 19:1–10 NKJV) —1 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” 8 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.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Could Zacchaeus have been initially impacted by John?
Jesus could tell that “salvation” had come to Zacchaeus because of his actions.

: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 your wages.”

:14 soldiersstrateuomai – to do military duty, be on active service, be a soldier

: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

:14 intimidatediaseio – to shake thoroughly; to make to tremble; to terrify; to agitate; to extort from one by intimidation money or other property

:14 accuse falselysukophanteo (“fig” + “bring to light”) – to accuse wrongfully, to calumniate, to attack by malicious devices; to exact money wrongfully; to extort from, defraud

At Athens those were “sukophantia” whose business it was to inform against any one whom they might detect exporting figs out of Attica; and as sometimes they seemed to extort money from those loath to be exposed, the name “sukophantes” from the time of Aristophanes down was a general term of opprobrium to designate, a malignant and base accuser from love of gain.



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 want.
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 to threats.
(Ephesians 6:9 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 Him.

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 watching.

God cares for your employees just as much as He does you.

:14 be content with your wages

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



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…
Video:  New MacBook Air 2015
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 of chocolates.
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…
(Philippians 4:11–13 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 more.

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.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)