In this week’s passage we move from Luke’s account of Jesus’ adolescence to Luke’s account of the adult life of Jesus the Christ.
But, before we read of Jesus’ mission, we learn of the mission of His slightly older cousin, John, commonly called “John the Baptist”. John introduces Jesus by calling people to turn from their sin and turn to God. This is called repentance. And, while John’s message and baptism are unique to his own ministry before Jesus comes on the scene, this passage remains instructive for us.
Why don’t you read through Luke 3.1-20? Then, discuss the following questions with someone who has, likewise, read the passage.
John uses lots of images in his teaching (vipers … fruit … axes and dead trees … straps on sandals … wheat stored away in barns … chaff that’s burned in the fire). Yet, the overarching picture from John’s prophecy is that of final judgment and accountability for sin. Why is this necessary? Why must sin be judged?
What do people think of sin and judgment and hell today? What are they giving up when they decide not to dwell on issues of ultimate justice before God?
Verse 8 gives us an indication about what some people were trusting in to shield themselves from the judgment to come? What were they trusting in? What are people trusting in today?
In verse 18, we’re told that John’s message was “good news”. In light of later verses like Romans 5.9, why is this the case? How could any message of judgment be “good”?
In the end, are we really saved by repentance alone? Or is repentance part of the greater work of God’s Spirit who leads us to Christ?
What does Herod’s treatment of John in verses 19-20 indicate about the kind of treatment those who repent of their sins and trust Jesus can expect to receive from those who don’t repent and turn to Jesus?