John Baptist Demands Conversion (Luke #9)

Text: Luke 3:1-14

God is now outside of His house (vss 1-2)

  • Caesar Augustus died in August of 14 A.D. and his stepson Tiberius took over the Roman Empire. Luke says it’s the fifteenth year of Tiberius’ reign which puts the date right around 30 A.D. Luke’s timeframe fits perfectly with the archeological record. Pontius Pilate is governor of the region of Judea which includes Jerusalem. He’s not voted on, he’s federally appointed by Caesar. Herod and Philip are tetrarchs which is the equivalent of county judges that have not been voted on but have been federally appointed by the president. But the most important figure here is John the Baptist.
  • John is this spectacle of hairy, rough, wilderness man. He was utterly disconnected from the world. He was no respecter of persons. Jesus said of John the Baptist that he was the greatest man that ever lived; apart from Jesus Christ of course.
  • As wild as John is, he is the son of a priest and would be a priest himself. While there are many many priests working in the temple in Jerusalem, the word of God comes to John, who is the priest in the wilderness. The Spirit of God is outside the temple at this point. The LORD Jesus Christ is the temple of the Spirit of God now!

John prepares the way with preaching for the purpose of conversion (vss 3-6)

  • John’s baptism was for whosoever would come to God in repentance looking for forgiveness of sins. The baptism isn’t the method of forgiving sins, the blood of Jesus Christ is the method of forgiveness of sins as Hebrews and Colossians and Romans clearly say. 
  • This is the point, John isn’t preaching for a prayer, he’s preaching for conversion.
    • Many years ago in our brand of Christianity, souls became numbers. And when souls became numbers, the preaching became about counting the numbers. Then the goal of the preaching became about saying a prayer so you could be counted in the number. Preaching for a prayer is not the goal with John Baptist.
    • God doesn’t want you to make a decision to live for him at your pew. It can start there, but that isn’t the end of it. The LORD wants you to go to work and decide to live for him at your job. He wants you to go home and decide to live for him in your family. Teenagers, the LORD wants you to make a decision to live for Jesus Christ at your school among your peers.
    • Look, that’s fine if you want to call on the name of the LORD here, but many people have done that and found out that calling on the name of the LORD in a pew isn’t the same as calling on the name of the LORD at your school. And inevitably you get confused. Did I really call on him? Do I really have eternal life? Of course, you’re confused about eternal life. Because you know the decision you made was easy at a pew when there were no consequences and everyone was rooting for you. Then the world hit you and when calling on the name of the LORD would actually mean something, you just conformed to the world.
  • John isn’t even preaching conversion as salvation but as preparation for the LORD
    • He has a 700-year-old prophecy as a precedent to preach conversion as preparation. Read verses 4-6. Prepare! The valleys filled, the mountains made low, the rough places smooth and the crooked made straight AND THEN all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
    • Conversion and repentance seem to be the same thing here.
    • Do you want to see the LORD in your life? Make some preparations to see him work. Maybe you’re more prepared for the devil to do something in your life than you are for the LORD to. Paul warned not to give place to the devil. Make no provision for the flesh.
  • Is this how you get saved? No. This is how you prepare your field for the LORD to work in it.

The time of conversion is now (vss 7-14)

  • The snakes are the spectators
    • What did you come to see?
    • Jesus asked the religious people about going to see John the Baptist. He asked what did you go to see in the wilderness? The wind blowing through the grass? 
    • Are you a spectator? Did you come to church to watch me serve God? Or did you come here to get something from God? You know who the snakes are? They’re the spectators.
    • Do you understand what church is to you if you’re here to watch people serve God? This is your entertainment. The work of God is entertainment to you. And since you’re and American who worships entertainment, it makes since that everything would just be entertainment to you, including God’s work.
    • Their religion is their heritage. We’re children of Abraham, they said. Don’t tell us we’re enemies of God and targets of God’s vengeance. To which John says, God is able of these stones to raise up children. Your biology, your momma, your daddy, your uncle whose a deacon, your family, your race Mr. Israelite, doesn’t make you a child of God.
    • The axe is laid to the root. The gardner is only looking for fruit. The farmer will only consider the harvest. He doens’t gather weeds.
  • John’s works that match repentance (vss 10-14)
    • Verse 11 – do you want the LORD to work in your life, quit being greedy and be generous. Do you know why you’re confused about eternal life? Because nothing in your life looks like Jesus Christ. Do you want to have confidence that you’re related to God. Be generous, quit being greedy
    • Verses 12-13 – do you want the LORD to work in your life, quit stealing from people
    • Verse 14 – do you want the LORD to work, don’t use your position in law enforcement to hurt people and be content with your pay

When Jesus came the first time, John the Baptist prepared the way for him. He preached godliness. He preached for conversion. He preached against religious spectators.