John the Baptist proclaims God’s message

Published 10:29 am Friday, December 26, 2008

Scripture: Luke 3:1-18

Aim: To instruct the pupil in the beginnings of John the Baptist’s ministry and give his basic message to men.

Golden Text: “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

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John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus was born. At the age of 30, John began his ministry as forerunner (one who runs before) of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. His basic job on Earth was to go out among men and announce that the Messiah was coming. “And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17. This was the message of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, John’s father).

This week’s lesson ends the year with the beginning of John’s ministry, which lasted for only six months, at the end of which he was beheaded because he faithfully proclaimed the truth to the people. This lesson gives a bird’s eye view of John’s ministry.

I. John was a country preacher (Luke 3:1-4). He grew up in the “wilderness”; that is, he grew up outside the towns and villages (vs. 2). He never drank wine or strong drink. He wore animal skins for clothing. He ate a diet of locusts and wild honey. In our modern day we would call him a “recluse,” or hermit. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he spoke to the people as God’s special prophet sent to announce the coming of the Messiah (vs. 4).

II. John’s basic message was simple and clear (Luke 3:3). “And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (vs. 3). His message was repent. Repentance means to turn away from your sins to God and righteousness. It includes confession before God and men of one’s sins.

Jesus came afterwards and preached, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” thus, showing the necessity of repentance for those who would be forgiven of their sins and follow God.

III. The sign that John used to publicly announce a person’s repentance was confession and baptism (Luke 3:12, 16). This was not baptism for the same purpose which Christ gave to the Church before He went back to Heaven. This was a baptism to show one was repenting of his sins.

Christian baptism is based upon the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is to be administered to those who have been born again through faith in Christ. Christian baptism identifies the believer as a follower of Jesus Christ.

John’s baptism was a sign that a person was repenting of their sins and looking forward to the appearance of the Messiah to the Israelites.

IV. The necessity for one to be baptized was that he repent of his sins (Luke 3:7-14). John refused to baptize any who did not show signs of repentance. Many came to be baptized by him, but he refused to baptize the unrepentant. He warned them that judgment was coming upon the unrepentant sinner (vs. 7-9). He expected those who came to be baptized to make changes in their life (vs. 8, 12-14).

V. Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire, John declared (Luke 3:15-18). Jesus would pour out the Holy Spirit upon believers, and He would cast the unrepentant into “fire unquenchable” (vs. 17).

Jesus is the one who takes away the sin of the world. John pointed everyone to Jesus as the Savior and Lord. Today we would do well to do the same!