The Man and His Message - Page 2 (series: Lessons on the Harmony of the Gospels
by John Lowe
It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way, a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” (Mark 1:2-3)
Once again, the quotation is from Isaiah 40:3. This is John’s reference for being the one who will be the forerunner of Christ. He was qualified and ordained by God for this purpose.
And so John came baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4)
John preached baptism and repentance for forgiveness for sins, not forgiveness of sins. He was preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry. Jesus is the only one who forgives sins.
The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist and he ate locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:5-6)
John was an Israelite of the tribe of Levi and could have been a priest serving in the temple. Instead, God called him to be a prophet. His church was located in the desert and his message was simple and unchanging.
And this was the message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” (Mark 1:7)
This shows that John was a humble man. But his message brought many out to see him and many turned back to God.
“I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:8)
Baptism is very important. Water baptism identifies the believer with Jesus Christ. Jesus was baptized so that He could be identified with humanity. Believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.
He went into all the country around Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:3)
John was the last of the prophets. He will have the same end as many of the other prophets-he will be put to death. Today a prophet would be one who speaks against the philosophy of modern religion. He would be very unpopular because the world doesn’t want a voice that speaks of judgment. John’s message was very strong.
As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall be made straight and rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s
salvation.’” John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (Luke 3:4-7)
Religious men did not receive John’s words, well. This would not be a popular message today either.
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children to Abraham.” (Luke 3:8)
Repentance is not the message
e that is being preached today. The message for today is the love of God, and that message moves men to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. If you have faith in Jesus Christ, you must have turned from your sins. If you have not repented of your sins, you have not found God. Repentance is involved in salvation, but today God’s message is, “…..Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…..” (Acts 16:31)
“The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:9)
John never preached about God’s love. His message was one of judgment. His message to Israel was that they would be replaced if they did not repent and turn back to God. This message also applies to us today. If you will not have Jesus as your Savior, you will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ. Remember that God is never unjust. From Him, you will either get mercy or justice. I need mercy, not justice because I am a sinner and so are you.
“What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:10-11)
John tells them that they are selfish. They need to share with others. This is a simple language.
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, “Teacher”, they asked, “What should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. (Luke 3:12-13)
Tax collectors were hated because they were believed to be greedy and they cheated people by collecting more than they were required to. Naturally, they kept the excess. They also turned to God.
Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely-be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14)
This is a practical message. As a Christian, you will be known by your fruits. Do everything to the best of your ability-like Jesus signs your paycheck. Your actions reveal what you are. “Thus, by their fruits, you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:20)