As we begin chapter 3 of Luke, we jump forward in time. John and Jesus are grown and we see John begin to fulfill his calling to prepare people to welcome Jesus when he begins his ministry.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Luke 3:4; cited from Isaiah 40:3-5)
His ministry was to get people ready to receive Jesus. So, what did he do?
He went [about] proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3).”
The Great Physician was coming and “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick (Luke 5:31).” Jesus wasn’t coming for those who thought they were righteous, but those who knew they were sick. And those who know they’re sick with a deadly disease want more than just to escape the deadly consequences of their disease. They want to be rid of their sickness entirely.
These are the ones will be ready to receive the One who comes “to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:31).” But not all “repentance” is repentance. It can be only skin deep, and John calls this out: “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8)
“Our hearts must go along with our confessions. The hypocrite confesses sin but still loves it, like a thief who confesses to stolen goods, yet loves stealing. How many confess pride and covetousness with their lips, but roll them as honey under their tongue.” (Thomas Watson, Doctrine of Repentance)
Jesus isn’t coming for those who just wish to play church. He isn’t looking for a veneer of repentance, but the real thing. He isn’t looking for people who will simply wear his nametag but those who will turn from lives of sin and self and yield themselves fully to his loving lordship.
So how do we prepare to hear a message like this? We ask the Lord to make us aware of our sin-sickness and to give a desire to renounce it.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23–24)
This Sunday Randy Gruendyke will be preaching Luke 3:1-14 and Walt Harrah will be leading our sung worship. Would you please pray for each as they prepare? And pray that each heart that hears this passage preached this Sunday would be like good soil, hearing the word, holding it fast in an honest and good heart, and bearing fruit with patience (Luke 8:15).
See you Sunday, Grace. Come hungry!
Song Link of the Week
Here and Now by Songs of Grace
Lead us beyond mere formal duty
Show us your captivating beauty
‘Til we in awe and reverence humbly bow