Luke 3:21-38; Ezekiel 42-43; Isaiah 63
John’s ministry had a simple goal: prepare the way for the Lord, the Messiah, to come. He called people to repentance. He called them to turn away from their sins. He called people to start their life in a new and fresh way that began by seeking and following God. When Jesus came to John, John’s ministry had been fulfilled. Perhaps most amazing to John, at lease as recorded in other gospels, was that Jesus would submit to baptism. “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:21-22) Jesus, the perfect lamb of God, didn’t need to repent. He didn’t need to turn back to God, yet He was baptized by John. It was, in essence, an example for all of us. It was also a sign of the beginning of His ministry on earth. It was during His baptism that the Father pronounced to the world that Jesus was His Son. Luke adds the pedigree of Jesus after this pronouncement that ends up with the words, “the son of Adam, the son of God.” That lineage gave Jesus “street cred” in the eyes of the Jews. The ministry that followed showed the world that what God pronounced at His baptism was, in fact, true. The message for each of us in this story begins with a self-examination. The Jews were baptized because they had made a new commitment to follow God’s way. They didn’t know about Jesus yet, but they knew they needed to get right with God. As we get ready to start the New Year, perhaps it would be a good idea to examine our lives. How are we drawing closer to God? How are we drawing away from God. It’s time to make a new commitment to God – or to renew our old one. Seek God’s will in your life and see if He is leading you into new areas of ministry. Obviously, you don’t need to go to the Jordan to be baptized, nor even your local church, but find a way to share that new commitment to follow God with others. Share, help and support each other. There is a world that needs to know God’s love and forgiveness. Become living examples of both.
Oh Lord, as I recognize the mistakes and sins of the past, I bring them to You right now. I am grateful for Your grace and forgiveness that gives me the chance to start again. Search my heart, reveal any wicked way in me and help me to show others Your grace and forgiveness.