This chapter opens with another detailed historical note (1, 2). This is Luke, the careful historian, showing that the events surrounding the coming of Jesus were rooted in history. There is a theological as well as a historical point to be made however. It is that before ‘’the word of God’’ can come through you, it must first come ‘’to’’ you (2).
John the Baptist’s ministry was in fulfilment of prophecy (4-6). His speech was direct and plain, and potentially offensive (7-14). In the end he paid a high price for his honesty (19, 20). Darkness does not like to be exposed by light. Rich and powerful got caught in the headlights of his preaching, and they used (or abused) their power to remove him.
John called the people to not rely on any supposed spiritual pedigree (8, 9). You can’t get into heaven on your parents’ ticket (or that of any ancestor). He preached repentance and judgment; the need for repentance in the light of coming judgment. He said that people should show their repentance by changed lives, and he spelled out in concrete terms what repentance would like for different people in differing circumstances (10-14). He left nothing abstract and unclear.
Most important of all – and this was the pulse of his ministry – John glorified Jesus (15-17). He had come to prepare the way for Him and he pointed to Him. He was a witness; a signpost to Christ. What an example he is to us all. Charles Spurgeon, the great Victorian preacher, shared John’s heartbeat. He said: ‘’I have a great need for Christ; I have a great Christ for my need.’’
When Jesus was baptised (21, 22) there was a further declaration of His unique identity as God’s Son. As we work through this third gospel we will discover that two of Luke’s key themes are prayer and the Holy Spirit. Here they are inter-linked.
Prayer: Lord, by your Spirit, help me to glorify you.