Reading: Luke 3:1-22; 4:1-13
Summary: Luke’s account of Jesus’ public ministry begins appropriately with his account of the forerunner, John the Baptist. As with Jesus’ birth, he puts it into a very precise historical context (see Luke 3:1-2). His account closes with the record of John’s arrest by Herod the tetrarch.
Like Matthew, Luke introduces Jesus’ ministry with accounts of both His baptism and temptation. Between these two events, Luke records Jesus’ genealogy. We previously read this text along with Matthew’s genealogy (see July 2’s reading).
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (a 1937 parody of Dale Carnegie’s best selling How to Win Friends and Influence People by Irving Tressler) may seem to have been John the Baptist’s intention when he addressed the multitudes who came to hear him preach. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7).
Oh my! What was John thinking?
Was it because those who came did so insincerely? That “they had come to be baptized because it was the fashion of the hour, and was esteemed as a mark of propriety and reverence” and that it was all for the sake of appearance? (J. S. Lamar, Commentary on Luke, 62). Heaven knows that style of religion is certainly around today.
If we don’t already know it, we must come to realize the intense gravity of our sin, the absolute necessity of repentance, and our abject unworthiness to come near most Holy God. Any attitude less than absolute reverence is wholly unacceptable. If our approach to God and faith is in any way casual, half-hearted, or merely for appearances, “offspring of snakes” (BBE) isn’t too strong at all.
Coddling their vain religion would serve no good purpose. They needed shaken and startled to reality. Soft and gentle words would achieve no such end. They needed straight talk and John was the one to give it.
Which raises some questions; about what do I need spoken to very strongly? What reality do I need shaken to see? Who will lay it on the line, unvarnished, for me? And, will I listen?