Saturday, December 10, 2022
In today’s reading, the last portion has a major theme : “the son of.” The author guides us from Jesus all the way back to the earliest days of history with “the son of Adam, the son of God.” The names and numbers of generations here differ from the names and numbers in Matthew 1. It seems Matthew was proving a point about the care and concern of God. Luke is being historically accurate. But this really isn’t the point. What’s interesting about Luke 3 is that this theme doesn’t begin in verse 23. Instead, it begins in verse 2, and grows throughout the passage.
John is the son of Zechariah. (V.2) We all know this. Why does the author repeat it? Because we need to have sons in mind. We know who John’s parents are and where he comes from. In preaching a baptism of repentance, John is calling for a radical life change. A change in both action and status. More on that in a moment.
In verse 7, John says to his listeners “you brood of vipers.” That is a claim of THEIR parentage, and not a nice one. They were “sons of snakes.” For those who desire to follow John, he calls us to account in how they live. Moreover, John basically explains that he isn’t talking about our physical, biological parents. Having Abraham as your biological ancestor, no matter how good Abraham was, does not mean that a person can escape condemnation. Instead, there needs to be a change in every person’s life. It seems our parentage is determined by how we share our abundance with the less fortunate. Who our “fathers” are is determined by whether we play fairly, by the rules of life and the laws of the land and by finding contentment in our lives.
In verse 21, Jesus goes to “fulfill all righteousness” by being baptized. In that moment, the Holy Spirit descends and a cloud says “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
A couple thoughts to pull you through the day :
- Jesus is a real man, with a real family, a real history, who lived in a real time and place. A bunch of names (like at the beginning of the chapter) and a genealogy (like at the end) shouldn’t make us glaze over, but perk up. Luke isn’t trying to confuse his audience. He is situating this story in time and place. This is decidedly not the fairy tale “once upon a time” but something much more like “December 8th, 7pm, in Granger, IN, at Jake’s home, while he types in his pajamas.” These names should ground the story in the real world more.
- John calls out his hearers and says “Don’t trust in your parentage.” For me, that hits home. I had believing grandparents on both sides, and a mom and dad who raised me in the church and encouraged me to love God. I can’t ride their coattails. It’s not about what they did, but what I do. But maybe, John’s warning for you could be a word of comfort: nothing that came before holds you back. Did your family not pass on morals, or pass on morals that were detrimental? Did you not know the state of your parents’ souls because you didn’t really know your parents? Do you love your parents but couldn’t imagine living the way they do? Then you are not bound to be like them. We are all called to cast aside our parentage as a source of confidence or weakness, and come before God as ourselves.
- John talks about repentance and changing our actions. When we do so, we no longer have snakes for parents. But who is our parent then? I think the hope is what we are introduced to in John 1:12-13 “12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Those who believe in the name of Jesus are able to call God their father. John’s talk of righteousness must be understood in light of Jesus. You are a sinner saved only by grace, and you cannot save yourself. But if you trust in the name of Jesus, you can be saved. This Christmas season, we are reminded of the great and awesome gift of Jesus the Messiah. Do you trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If you have, then in response to HIM making you a child of God, you can and must live a righteous life.
- In some sense, every human is a children of God. If Adam is “the father of us all”, and he is “the son of God” we are in a sense, children of God. This however, does not mean that every person is saved. If we live like children of the devil, we truly are children of the devil. These are not my words, but the words of Jesus in John 8. This does truly mean that when we hear the statements this time of year about the “brotherhood of man” and “we are all one”, those statements are true. Instead of filling us with warm fuzzies, let it move us to speak to our brothers and sisters about salvation from dead actions, harm and pain to love, grace and hope that can only be found in Christ Jesus.
May you today, see the reality of Jesus in this Christmas time.
May you let go of familial pride or shame and come to God only and forever through Jesus.
May you become what you were meant to be, a son or daughter of God through righteous action and salvation in Jesus, and may you share your salvation with the world.
So for one final time this season from me :
– Jake Ballard
Jake Ballard is pastor at Timberland Bible Church. If you’d like to hear more from him, you can find Timberland on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TimberlandBibleChurch/ ) and on Instagram (https://instagram.com/timberlandbiblechurch?igshid=t52xoq9esc7e). The church streams the Worship Gathering every Sunday at 10:30. Besides studying and teaching God’s word, he is raising three beautiful children with the love of his life, loves Christmas, Harry Potter, Christmas, Board Games, and Christmas. He is also going to be teaching New Testament Survey II, which is available from Atlanta Bible College with their ABC4U program (https://www.atlantabiblecollege.com). If you’d like to reach out to talk Bible, talk faith, or talk about your favorite Christmas Song (and why Mariah Carey sings it), look Jacob Ballard up on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jacob.ballard.336 ) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God bless you all!
- What do you think John may have learned from his father Zechariah, whom we met back in Luke 1?
- Look again at John’s message in Luke 3, what do you think he might tell you if you asked him the same question the crowd, tax collectors and soldiers asked, “What shall we do?”
- Do you see yourself as a child of God? Why or why not? What does it mean to be a child of God? What privileges and responsibilities come with the position?