-Luke gives us detailed description of the political powers in the region as the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus commence. It is in the reign of Tiberius Caesar of Rome, Pontius Pilate governor of Judah, Herod the tetrarch of Galilee to name the most important. Recently in 1961, an inscription was found in Caesarea Maritima on stone verifying Tiberius and Pontius Pilate’s rule at the same time (http://www.bible-history.com/empires/pilate.html).
-It was at this time that the Word of God came to John, son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. He began to preach a baptism of repentance in the entire district around the Jordan in the spirit of Elijah and Isaiah (Luke 3:4-6, Matthew 11:11-15). His warning was to this generation that he called a “brood (a group whose members share a common background, family) of vipers” (Luke 3:7). There was a distinct call to bear the fruits of repentance so that they would not be cut off from the line of faith, which the true children of Abraham possessed.
-The reoccurring question, “What shall we do?” comes up in the text (Luke 3:10, 12, 14). For the crowd John says “share” (Luke 3:11), for the tax collectors John says “collect no more than what you have been ordered to” (Luke 3:13), and for the soldiers John says “don’t take money by force, accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14). John addresses the obvious sins of each distinct group. *Application* This should call us to self introspection and examination as to what the fruits of repentance would look like in our lives. Our question needs to be as these, “What shall I do?”
-We also see here in the text the great Messianic expectation that was circulating through the populace of the Jews. John was a candidate, but he quickly dismissed that possibility claiming that One was coming that was much mightier than he. This One would baptize with the Holy Spirit (indwelling) and fire (judgment). John knew his proper role in God’s salvation plan and faithfully fulfilled his mission. He was a voice crying out in the wilderness to return to the God of Abraham. *Application* Do we faithfully serve the LORD in the role and mission He has designed for our lives? Are we decreasing as He increases in our own lives (John 3:30)?
-Another part of John’s mission was to call out the corruption in the government. This led to a confrontation with Herod Antipas, when John reprimanded him for marrying his brother’s wife and other wicked things, which he had done. This denunciation landed John in prison and later beheaded for his righteous cause (Matthew 14:1-12). *Application* Persecution will arise when we take a stand for what is right and just under the LORD’s authority. We will no doubt pay a price for our boldness, but the LORD will give us victory in the final analysis. Always keep that in mind.
-Now the baptism of Jesus is described. This initiates His public ministry at the age of 30. His baptism was not a baptism of repentance as the others since He had no sin. This was simply done in obedience to His Father who had sent Him to purify the sins of the world by His death on the cross. He placed our sin on Himself. He took the punishment for us.
-We see here in this passage an evidence of the Trinity. This is the biblical doctrine of the Three in One of God the Father who spoke, God the Holy Spirit who descended in the form of a dove, and God the Son who was the incarnate Jesus Christ. They are all in the same place here and in other parts of Scripture each are given the attribute of Deity.
-Now Luke denotes the genealogy of Jesus to trace back His Divine line to fulfill the prophecies particularly of Judah and David. This line is important as it goes all the way back to Adam, where the sin nature originated. Christ Jesus will become the life giving Adam for mankind in His atoning work on the cross and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:22, 45).
Verse to Memorize: Luke 3:16