And John walks out of the woods, preaching repentance, preparing the way for the coming of Jesus. And he was really good. He was a phenomenal, Spirit-filled, bold, biblical, passionate preacher. And crowds came to him.
And here is what they said and how he responded…
Luke chapter 3, verse 15:
"The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to
clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." NIV
Now everyone is around John. He is one of those guys who draws crowds. It is like he’s number one on iTunes. Your favorite playlist on Spotify. Everybody wants to be his friend on Facebook. Everybody’s really hoping that he’s the guy. He’s going to fix all our problems. He’s going to be our Savior. It’s all going to get better now. And crowds come out,
and John… well you’ve got to imagine.... He eats bugs and honey… he wears camel-hair clothing… he’s just come out of the wilderness.
John is intense. He’s committed. He’s devoted. And he’s yelling, "Repent, repent." And he’s phenomenal at it. And the crowds come out. And they’re all wondering and asking, "Is he the One? Is this the One we’ve been waiting for?
And here’s what he says, "It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus. He is coming. He’s greater than me. He’s so much greater than me that I’m not worthy to untie his sandals." Now, culturally this could be lost on us, so let us consider it.
In that day, the roads weren’t nice sidewalks. They were muddy, paths, traveled by animals. So you’ve got feces and urine, and garbage, and it’s gross. Now how many of you don’t like feet to begin with?
Now imagine you get one of those stinky, nasty, funky, smelly, bunioned, callused athlete’s footed-ness, no socks, sandaled feet put in front of you. You don’t want to touch it… you don’t want to untie it… You don’t even want to look at it... And you don’t want to smell it.
And so here is John with crowds coming out to him… They’ve got his face on t-shirts with the word "Hope." He’s a big deal… and John says… "I’m not worthy to untie his shoes." And in that day, that was the job that was passed on and relegated to the lowest of slaves. And John says, "No, you don’t understand. The distance between me and Jesus is so
great. He is so great. I am not worthy to untie his shoes."
So John transitions all of this attention from himself to Jesus.
So he says, number 1, that Jesus is greater than I and number 2, that Jesus’
judgment is greater than his. But here is what Jesus does.
One: He identifies with us
"When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too…" Luke 3:21
Now, John is judging people: "Repent, repent, repent." And that’s okay because there’s a greater judgment. See, your brother or sister in Christ has a right to look at your life and say, "That’s a sin... That’s in disagreement with Scripture. If you say you’re a Christian and you’re not acting biblically, that’s a sin." And some might say, "Well, you
can’t judge me." But if you’re a Christian, and you have been baptized into the body of Christ, we can judge your actions, but we can’t judge your soul. Only God judges your eternal soul.
So one day we’ll all stand before Jesus and he’ll be the judge. We’ll all give an account to him. We’ll all be on the end of the fork. Some of us are going to fall to the ground and worship him and some of us are going to be chaff, blown into the fires of hell. And the chaff here includes those like Herod in verse 19. A political leader… a public
figure who’s an example for the nation…. and Herod decided he wanted to have an illicit, adulterous, incestuous affair with a close relative. So they left their spouses and destroyed their families… because they were in love.
Well, John got in trouble because he told Herod, "That’s not an alternative lifestyle. That’s adultery. You need to take the rainbow bumper sticker off the back of your camel. You need to apologize and repent. You need to stop parading around for diversity and tolerance and start practicing repentance and holiness." And guess what? Herod didn’t like
that. John was very politically incorrect… he was insensitive and intolerant.
And so here he’s in the river. There’s a line of people. His ratings are high. Herod’s ready to arrest him. He is the talk of the town. And there’s a long line of sinners coming to get baptized, confessing they need to be cleansed from their sin, and who shows up in the line… but Jesus? And I can just see John like, "You’re sinner. You’re sinner.
You’re sinner. Uh oh, you shouldn’t be in this line. You’re in the wrong line."
Matthew 3:14 records the same event. And it says that John looked at Jesus and was like, "I need to be baptized by you…" "Shouldn’t we trade places? You know like, since you’re sinless and I’m sinful, won’t you dunk me?" I mean, John was confused and it’s no wonder. Why would Jesus get baptized?
I mean sinners get baptized right?
But, the Bible tells us… Jesus has been "tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
That, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus came down to the waters identifying himself with sinners. So if he could go to the cross and be identified with the sinners… if he could be crucified between two thieves… why should we be surprised if he goes to the Jordan to be identified with sinners?
Two: He puts His Spirit in us
So verse 21 says, "Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove."
Up to this point, for thirty years, Jesus resisted sin and grew in wisdom and stature and favor with men and God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit makes Himself publicly visible… Now we begin to see the ministry of the Holy Spirit unfolding in the New Testament… not just so that everyone would know, "This is the God-man. This is the
Savior. This is the Redeemer. This is the Messiah." But so that we would know He is the driving force behind a victorious Christian life.
The Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Jesus, as if to show that he never left Jesus. It reveals how Jesus lived his life… by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was tempted, how does he say no to temptation? When Jesus needs to grow spiritually, how did he grow? How did he worship? The answer is by the power of the Holy Spirit. And again He
identifies with us. He is our example. That’s what the baptism shows.
And I’ll tell you what, the Holy Spirit is connected to Jesus throughout all of Luke. I’ll give you a few examples. Luke says things like this. Jesus was, "full of the Holy Spirit," "led by the Spirit," and "came in the power of the Spirit." After reading from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach good news," Jesus says, "Today this
Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." The Holy Spirit is on Jesus!
And this sets us up for the sequel of Acts. You see, Luke and Acts are like Parts 1 & 2. In Luke the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus at his baptism. And in Acts the promise is made that He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. So Jesus lives without sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, he dies for sinners, he’s raised by the power of the Holy Spirit, he
ascends into heaven, and he and the Father send the Holy Spirit to the church on the Day of Pentecost. And just as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in His baptism, now Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16)… now Jesus empowers us as the church to continue His ministry to the world.
Do you see how Luke put those together? The Holy Spirit on Jesus. The Holy Spirit on us. To be Spirit-filled, Spirit-led is to be Christ-like. That’s what it means. So the Holy Spirit is the one who imparts to us the finished work of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, the new life, the indwelling presence and power of God. And when we see the Holy Spirit
on Jesus, it gives us so much hope.
You know how we’re going to serve God and bear fruit and see people’s lives changed and doors opened in the community? It’s by the Holy Spirit. He saves people. He calls people. And He empowers people. Our hope is to be continually filled by the Spirit… to be led by the Spirit… on mission for and with Jesus. That’s the key to successful ministry. It’s
no secret. That’s the power of the gospel. Jesus puts His Spirit in us. That’s how it works.
Three: He calls us sons of God
Jesus is baptized. The Holy Spirit descends. And we can’t miss this.
This is prophetic language. This is revelation. Revelation is where God speaks to us. And so when the Bible says that a voice came from heaven, God is going to reveal himself in His fullness. Jesus is in the water, the Holy Spirit descends upon him, and the Father speaks from heaven. "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Luke
3:22). This is amazing.
One of the things about ancient cultures, is that the king was like a god. He lived high above the people. They were somehow less dignified and deified than he. And often when he died, they declared him to be god and they built temples to him. And so then his son would be the son of god. He would take the throne. That’s why some of the early Roman
emperors didn’t like Christianity. Jesus is the Son of God.
And in the Father saying, "You are my Son," he is clearly declaring, "He is the same as me. He’s as much God as I am. He’s as worthy of glory as I am. He is to be obeyed as much as I am. His dominion extends where mine does. He’s my Son, come to rule, lead, and unveil my kingdom." This is a clear statement of deity. "Son of God" means that Jesus is
God. He’s the same stuff as the Father. He’s the same glory and preeminence and power and supremacy as the Father.
Some would say, "Well, the Bible doesn’t say Jesus is God." Let me assure you that He was murdered because he wouldn’t stop saying he was God. The New Testament
repeatedly declares him to be God. He receives worship as God. And God the Father parts heaven and in front of a huge crowd says, "This is my Son..."
Now did the Father say this before or after Jesus began his public ministry? This is very important for our understanding of identity. In so far as we can tell, has Jesus performed a miracle yet? Has he cast out any demons, raised any dead people, healed any sick people, walked on any lakes? No.
I love the fact that the Bible records that the Father loves the Son and is pleased with him before he does any public ministry.
So many people, their whole life have wanted to hear from their Father what Jesus heard, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." I have good news: if you are in Christ, you are loved, you are a son or a daughter, the Father is pleased with you. That’s where your relationship with God starts.
It says it in multiple places in the New Testament. But I’ll give you one example from Galatians 4:6-7, "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." NIV
Here’s what he’s saying: Jesus went to the cross and he took our place. And in so doing, he gave us his. Isn’t that amazing? So Jesus goes to the cross and suffers and dies in our place for our sins. God made him who knew no sin to become sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus went to the cross and took your place and gave
you his place so that now you are a son of God.
Some translations will call us "children of God" in an effort to include the ladies. But the statement here, "son of God," applies equally to the men and the women. And we don’t want to be politically correct; we want to be biblically correct. And when the Bible says that in Jesus we are sons of God, what it is saying is that we hold that same
respected and honored position that the Son did.
You and I get the full inheritance and the family name. You are Christian; there are no second-class citizens; we’re all treated like sons. That includes the ladies. It’s being in this privileged position: through Jesus, sin forgiven, adopted into the family of God, and Paul says, "God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts" so that you can cry out
to God as Father. Even if you didn’t have a dad, he’s a Father to the fatherless. And he has an inheritance for us. Paul says the down payment of that inheritance is the Holy Spirit: the beginning of God’s good gifts.
And the Holy Spirit will empower your new ministry out of your new identity. And if our identity is as a son who’s loved and the Father is pleased with us, and the power, the wind in our sails, is the power of the Holy Spirit, now we are freed from sin to live a new life patterned after Jesus’, one of great passion and joy, not powered by religion and
guilt but the Holy Spirit in joy.
Maybe you’ve never heard that before but I pray that the Holy Spirit would confirm that to you. If you are in Christ, you are his son. I’m not saying you’re God and divine and equal to Jesus. I’m saying that you have been gifted with the same position that Jesus enjoyed. The Father loves you like he loves Jesus. The Father is pleased with you as he’s
pleased with Jesus. And the Father has good things for you as he does for Jesus.
That changes everything doesn’t it?
Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott
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