Manna for Today

 

Jesus is Better Than John (Luke 3:15-20)

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.  (Luke 3:15-20)

Learn it:

            After hearing the teachings of John the Baptist people began to wonder if he was the coming Messiah.  He’s talking about forgiveness of sins and the good news that is coming, so it’s easy to see how they could get confused.  Luke makes it clear that John was not taking all the glory but was pointing people to the real Messiah that was coming soon.  He was baptizing with mere water but the one to come was baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire!  John was not to be worshipped but the coming Messiah was to be.

            Luke then tells us how John’s ministry ends.  John always spoke the truth no matter who the person was.  He was so bold that he even rebuked the king for his incestual relationship with his brother’s wife!  King Herod was so mad that he locked him up!  We know from the gospel of Mark that John was eventually beheaded.  John was a man of conviction and would not pander to anyone. 

Live it:   
            For us today we need to see how Jesus is better than anything we may find here on earth.  In Christian culture, it is easy to get caught up in worshipping famous pastors.  Maybe they have an electric personality, preach great sermons or the church has a great worship team.  Those things are all good, but they should be pointing towards the one who is greater!  Jesus is better than any pastor, no matter who they are. 
            We should be going to a church because they are strengthening our relationship with God.  We should not go to a church because it is trendy, popular, or comfortable.  Churches should be challenging people in their faith.  Calling them to be like Christ and to build the kingdom of God.  John was true to the message and it cost him his life.  Hopefully, church leaders are staying true to the gospel and preaching the good news.  Pray for your pastors and pray that your motives for attending a church are pure.  You attend because it is a place focused on God and it is drawing you closer to God.

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What Repentance Looks Like (Luke 3:7-14)

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? 8 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 for Abraham. 9 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.”

10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.  11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”  13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

14 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 3:7-14)

Learn it:

John the Baptist’s teachings were very blunt and straightforward. God’s judgment was coming and the Jews were terrified.  They ran to John to make sure they were safe.  They wanted to make sure that they would not experience God’s judgment.  In this passage, John is telling them what true, sincere, repentance looks like.  He tells them that they need to produce good works and not just depend on their family heritage, of being an Israelite, for their safety. 

John goes on to give them some examples of how to produce fruit.  He tells them to be generous with their material possessions.  If they have extra clothing, they should give it to those who have none.  He tells tax collectors and soldiers not to extort money from other people.  Tax collectors should just collect what is required by the government and soldiers should be content with the money they are paid.  We see greed and materialism was a big sin back them. 

Live it:

            We probably have similar questions and concerns today as the Jews did back then.  We want to be sure that we are saved and that we are not going to face the wrath of God. The theme of faith without works is dead, is seen throughout the Bible (James 2:14-26).  Our works and good deeds do not save us, but it shows that our lives have been changed.  If we say we are a follower of Jesus Christ, yet we gossip, take advantage of people, and are always angry, did we really surrender our lives to Jesus? 

            We need to do some looking at our lives and see if we are producing fruit that glorifies God.  Are we generous with the material things God has given us?  Are we treating other people fairly in our jobs?  If we use our faith just to protect ourselves from going to hell and not to glorify God, then we need to reevaluate our relationship with God.  God has called us to so much more when we are his followers.  His mercy and goodness are experienced here and now.  How can you be generous with your life today?


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John the Baptist’s Ministry (Luke 3:1-6)

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.  The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

Learn it:

            Chapter three begins to focus on the work of John the Baptist.  The first two verses help us date to when John the Baptist would have started his ministry.  Scholars today believe it would have been sometime between AD 26 – AD37.  The important thing for us to look at is the purpose of his ministry, this is in verse 3.  Luke focuses on the message of what John was preaching.  He was preaching a different kind of baptism than what Jews were used to. 

Jews typically saw baptism as a purification ritual so that they would be ceremonially clean.  Not a forgiveness of sins kind of clean.  John was preaching that this baptism would signify that people had come and repented of their sins.  This baptism is also different from what our baptisms represent today but John was preparing the way for Christ. 

Luke also includes a quote from Isaiah where John had fulfilled a prophecy.  This prophecy was about a person that was to come before the Messiah that would begin to point people to an everlasting salvation.  He was going to be “in the wilderness” and making it easier to find salvation.  A transition away from the law to something else.  This is exactly what Christ has done.  We are no longer bound by the Law, but we have the Law of Christ.  It is no longer confined to just the Jewish people but to all people. 

Live it:

            God had a specific purpose for John’s life.  He was to prepare the way for the Son of God.  What an awesome responsibility he had.  It was not a glamorous job, but it was one that he was passionate about.  God has a specific purpose for you and me.  We are called to be like John and proclaim the goodness of the salvation of Jesus Christ.  How anyone can find forgiveness of sin in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It’s not always easy but it is something we are challenged to do.  I am not always the best at doing it, but I pray that God would continue to give me opportunities and the boldness to do so.  Would you join me today and pray that God would give us boldness to tell someone about how much God loves them?  


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Christ was Always Fully God (Luke 2:41-52)

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.  And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:41-52)

Learn it:

            Luke fast forwards 12 years and we get the only story of Jesus as a child.  This is an important passage because it tells us that at an early age Jesus knew he was the Son of God.  He had a unique relationship with God the Father.  This is not something Jesus realized later on but from his birth, he was fully God and fully man. 

In this story, Mary and Joseph take the family to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  While they are there Jesus stays behind at the temple.  Two things to keep in mind, Mary and Joseph were not bad parents by not knowing where their child was.  It was common for children to all be together and have other people keep an eye on them.  Second, Jesus was not being disobedient to his parents.  His true allegiance is to God the Father.  Luke tells us at the end of the story that Jesus was obedient to his parents. He wanted to make sure his readers knew that Jesus was a good child. 

Live it:

            The main application for us in this story is that Christ is fully God.  This was not something he claimed to be when he was older.  Some denominations believe Christ was not fully God until he was baptized.  Until that point, he was just a regular human whom God was going to use when he was older.  In this passage, Luke makes it clear that Christ always knew he was the Son of God.  It is hard for us to wrap our minds around the fact that he was fully God and fully man.  Jesus Christ is without sin even though he was tempted in every way.


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Pastor’s Corner