A GOOD DAY TO BE AT THE RIVER
Brrrr!!!! It's cold outside, and sometimes inside. I had trouble coming up with today's title, so I thought I'd be a little sarcastic. I pray that wherever you are you are warm and safe. Well, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and that you have a great New Year. I hope you continue to join me daily (most days, Lol) for the continuation of our journey through the Bible. We left off last week by looking at the childhood of Jesus. There is so much still to cover and I can't wait to get into it. So, here we go!
"When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'" (Luke 3:21-22)
We have looked at the baptism of Jesus in Matthew an Mark. Here we see basically the same story. Jesus went to the River Jordan where he was baptized by John the Baptist. Now, in each passage preceding the baptism of Jesus the author gives somewhat of an introduction of John. They also allow us to hear a snippet of the sermon he was preaching. Luke is no exception. However, Luke does have John saying something that we don't hear him say in the other gospels. In Luke John declares; "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Luke 3:8) Then the people ask: "What should we do then?" (Luke 3:10) John answers by saying: "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none...," (Luke 3:11) John tells tax collectors to not "collect any more than you are required to." (verse 13) To the soldiers John declared: "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely." (verse 14b) In Luke's Gospel baptism requires something of the person being baptized. It invokes change. This could be Luke's version of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Again, we are told that Jesus showed up for baptism. He stood in line with the common people, the tax collectors, and the soldiers, awaiting his turn. Just like in Matthew and Mark the voice speaks after Jesus comes out of the water. Here, just as in Mark, the voice speaks only to Jesus. But, there is something different about Luke's account of the baptism. What is it? Luke says that Jesus was praying, then "heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended..." (Luke 3:21b-22a) That's right, only Luke tells us that Jesus was praying. This is important! Jesus prays and the Holy Spirit comes upon him. For Luke, there is a great emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit. Luke was also the author of the Book of Acts which has been referred to as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. We will discover that Jesus prays a lot in Luke's gospel. Luke emphasizes both the role of the Spirit in Jesus' career and then in the life of the Church.
I'm not skipping over the genealogy, I promise! LOL! Keeping with the theme of Jesus and the Spirit we then discover that when Jesus went to the desert where he was tempted he wasn't forced to go according to Luke. Mark tells us in his gospel that "At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert." (Mark 1:12) Luke understands things differently: "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert." (Luke 3:1) For Luke, the Spirit leads and directs.
So, why is this so much more important for Luke than it was for Matthew and Mark? Remember, in Matthew and Mark Jesus did pray, but there wasn't the association between Jesus, prayer, and the role of the Holy Spirit as there is in Luke. Well, we have already discovered that in each gospel the author shows us something unique about Jesus. Luke is no exception. Remember, in Matthew Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfil the law. In Mark, he was the suffering servant. So, who is he in Luke? Well, the answer will be discovered as we continue this journey. I will tell you this, however; not only is the role of the Holy Spirit important in the story that Luke is telling, so is....ready?...Jerusalem. Yes, the city of Jerusalem. Now, can we connect the role of the Holy Spirit with the city of Jerusalem? Well, I assure you that we will. And it will be interesting. Please join me again tomorrow. I assure you that you will not want to miss tomorrow's study. Stay safe and warm. -Pastor Rick