Luke Chapter 6.27- 49 – Explanation

The Sermon on the Mount – Continued

The Lord Jesus raises the standard of behaviour for His disciples. Loving, doing good, blessing and praying for those who are our enemies and who hate us to the extent of physical abuse, is not a natural reaction. However, this is what He expects from His followers. The rule now is to do to others as we would have them do to us. It is normal to love and do good or to give to those who feel the same way about us, but we have to treat our enemies as we would our friends. We also ought to give to others, not seeking anything in return or just to gain personal advantage. If we show these qualities, we shall receive great reward from the Father, and we will also be displaying His character, for He is kind and merciful to those who are unthankful and evil.

We have not to sit in judgment or condemn others if we don’t want to be judged or condemned ourselves. Then again, if we forgive and give, we shall receive the same in return. Indeed, what we receive in return will be far more abundant than what we actually gave. This encourages us to give abundantly, knowing that we shall receive again in like measure.

Blind leaders who lead the blind (like the Pharisees) are likely to cause them to fall into a pit. Those who follow their teacher are not greater than the teacher, but when the teaching has its desired end in them, then they will be like their teacher.

There is no point in trying to correct some small thing in my brother’s life if there is something far more serious that requires adjustment in my own. That kind of behaviour, the Lord says, is hypocrisy, and we must look at ourselves first and set our own house in order before turning our critical eye on others.

Two trees, two hearts, and two houses

From verse 43 – 49, the Lord gives us three couplets: the good tree and the corrupt tree, the good heart and the evil heart, and the house built upon the rock contrasted with the house built upon the sand.

The type of tree it is determines the type of fruit that it produces. Likewise, a good heart brings forth good treasure, but a heart that treasures up evil will surely produce evil. It is certain that what we are within will manifest itself outwardly.

The illustration of the two houses is given to show what a person who comes to Christ is like, if they hear and carry out His word. They are building upon a sound foundation, which will stand them in good stead when trial and difficulty come. The storms of life will not shake them, because they are built upon the rock of His precious word. However, those who are not obedient to what they hear are building upon the sand. There is no sure basis to their lives, and they have nothing to withstand the pressures that surely come upon us all. They are exposed when the test comes and are swept away, finding themselves in ruin.

Luke Chapter 6.1 – 26

Accused of Breaking the Sabbath (verses 1 – 11)

As the disciples went through the corn fields, they ate ears of corn after rubbing the chaff away with their hands. Because it was the Sabbath day, the Pharisees accused them of breaking the law. The Lord brings before them the example of David being given the showbread from the holy place to eat when he was hungry. This was normally reserved only for the priests, but necessity permitted it to be given to David and those with him (1 Samuel 21). In fact, the law of Moses, while prohibiting work on the Sabbath, did allow for the preparation of food to make a meal (Exodus 12.16). The Lord takes the opportunity to assert His right that He, the Son of man, was Lord over the Sabbath as well.

Again, on another Sabbath day, the scribes and Pharisees watched the Lord when he entered a synagogue. They wanted to see if He would heal a man with a withered hand. The Lord knew they only wanted to find fault, so He asked the man to stand forward in the midst of everyone gathered. He then asked them whether it was lawful to do good or evil, or to save life or destroy it, on the Sabbath day. Looking round upon them all, He then told the man to stretch out his hand, and, when he did this, his hand was made whole like his other hand. They were furious at this, and began to discuss what they were going to do with Jesus.

Praying and calling His disciples (verses 12-16)

Again, Luke emphasises the dependence of the Lord in prayer. This time, He prays on the mountain side, and spends the whole night in communion with His God. If the Lord so prayed, how much more do we need to spend long periods in prayer before God?

When the day broke, He called His disciples, and out of them He chose twelve apostles, whom Luke names, including Judas, who would become the traitor among them.

When He came down to a level place, great multitudes of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. Many were also possessed with demons and were healed. All the people tried to touch Him, because power went out from Him to heal them. The Lord can send out power to meet our need, but, no matter how great the need, His power is never diminished.

The Sermon on the Mount (verses 20 – 26)

From Matthew 5 we know that the Lord went back up onto the mountain to give this teaching, and it was given specifically to His disciples.

Here, Luke selects four blessings and four woes pronounced by the Lord. The contrast is between the present and the future, what happens now compared to eternity.

Those who are poor now are blessed, because they inherit the Kingdom of God. They who are hungry now will be filled, and those who weep presently will laugh and find joy in the day to come. Finally, those who are hated, rejected, persecuted and cast out by men are encouraged to take it with joy. They can rejoice, for they will have a great reward in heaven. It is also noted that the Old Testament prophets suffered the same kind of treatment from the Jews of their day.

In contrast, He says “woe to the rich,” for their consolation is only for the present. The full may come to hunger as circumstances in the world change, and those who laugh now will surely come to times of sorrow and tears. Woe to those, He says as well, who have popularity among men who speak well of them, for this may be an indication that the words are false, because they tell the people only what they want to hear.

Luke Chapter 5.18 – 39


Power to Heal (verses 18 – 26)

The fame of the Lord Jesus was now so widespread that even Pharisees and lawyers came from all parts of Galilee and Judea to hear His teaching. Luke tells us that the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Power was available, but not all benefited from that power. How true that is even today. Paul speaks in Ephesians 1 about “the exceeding greatness of His power” which is available through the exalted Lord Jesus, but so few avail themselves of that surpassing power.

However, the incident which follows both demonstrates the power of the Lord to heal physically, and illustrates His ability to forgive sins.

Four men try to bring a paralysed man to Jesus, but cannot get near because of the multitude of people present. How often the crowd prevents people from coming to the Saviour! However, these men are not going to be deterred and are more than prepared for the burden of carrying the helpless man and finding a way to bring him before the Lord. Do we ever think about bringing the burden of others before the Lord? And if we can’t do it physically, surely we could do it in prayer. They take him up to the flat roof of the house, break through the tiling, and lower the man down to lie just in front of the Lord Jesus.

Verse 20 significantly explains that the Lord saw their faith (that is, the faith of all the men), and, as a result, He told the man his sins were forgiven. The reaction of the scribes and Pharisees was to accuse Him of blasphemy, reasoning “who can forgive sins but God alone?” The Lord knew their thoughts and asked them whether it was easier to forgive sins or to tell the man to rise up and walk. He clearly tells them that He would heal the man, so that they would know that He, as the Son of man, possessed the power to forgive sins. He then tells the man to take up his couch and go home, and immediately the man rose up, carrying his couch, and went home giving glory to God. Everyone was amazed and filled with fear, glorifying God.

The call of Matthew and the Pharisees’ questions (verses 27 – 39)

Levi, or Matthew, as he is called elsewhere, was a tax collector. As he sat receiving taxes from the people, Jesus called him to follow him. Matthew immediately left everything and rose up to follow the Lord. He made a great feast for the Lord in his house, and many tax collectors and other people were present. The scribes and Pharisees complained and asked why the disciples ate with tax collectors and sinners. The Lord answered that it was the sick who needed a doctor, and that He had not come to call those who thought themselves righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Next, they questioned Him about why His disciples ate and drank, while John’s and the Pharisees’ disciples fasted and prayed? He told them that people don’t fast when the bridegroom is with them, likening Himself to the bridegroom. However, when He was no longer with them, then there would be a need for fasting in those days.

He then told them a parable pointing out that no-one puts a piece of new cloth onto an old piece. If this happened, it would easily tear the old cloth, and the two pieces of material would not match. Again, He underlined that no-one puts new wine into old wineskins, because it would cause them to burst, the wine would be lost and the bottles would perish. New wine must be put into new wineskins so as to preserve both.

The point of these illustrations was to say that the new and the old can’t be mixed. The Pharisees held onto the old way of life, while the disciples embraced the new. Likewise, Christians ought not to mix the old life they had before salvation with the new life they now have. Paul says if anyone be in Christ they are a new creation. Old things have passed away and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5.17). The new garments speak of the new character which God has given us in Christ, while the new wine speaks of that new joy and satisfaction enjoyed by all who have been given new life in the risen Lord.

Luke chapter 5.1-17

Cleansing Nets (verses 1-3)

The multitudes of people throng around the Lord as He stands by Lake Gennesaret. This lake is also called the Sea of Tiberius and the Sea of Galilee. They had a desire to hear the word of God taught, and so should we. There were two ships berthed at the edge of the lake, evidently belonging to Peter and Andrew and James and John. The night’s fishing was over, and they were washing their nets to prepare them for future use. This is a Divine principle, that vessels should be clean if they are going to be usable, and we, as God’s people, experience ongoing cleansing through our exposure to the word of God. The Lord said in John 15.3: “Now ye are clean through the word I have spoken unto you.” Jesus goes into Simon Peter’s boat and asks him to push out a little from the shore. The boat became His platform to speak to the multitude, and He sat down to teach them the word of God.

Catching Fish (verses 4-11)

After the preaching, Peter was told to sail out into deeper water and let down his nets. Peter is a bit reluctant, as they have spent the whole night fishing this part of the sea and have caught nothing. Nevertheless, he agrees to let down a net as the Lord instructed. Notice, he doesn’t do exactly what he was told, as the Lord said let down the nets, plural. Peter only let down a single net. As a result, when they enclosed a great multitude of fish, the net was beginning to break. Having called for their partners to bring the other ship, they took in such a catch that both ships were in danger of sinking. No doubt, this was a lesson on complete obedience for Peter, but he also became conscious of his own sinfulness in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Peter and all the others were astonished at the miracle. The Lord encouraged Peter not to be afraid and revealed to him that, from now on, he would catch men through the preaching of the word of the Lord. As soon as they arrived at land, they left everything, their business and their families, and became followers of the Lord Jesus.


Curing the Leper (verses 12-14)

The Lord moves from the seaside to the city, and encounters a man in the very advanced stages of leprosy. The man is not afraid to get down before the Lord, and falls on his face, pleading with the Lord to cleanse him. Note, he did not doubt the ability of the Lord to cure him, but was unsure if this was His will. Dramatically, the hand of the Lord went out and touched the leper. Luke, in a number of passages, draws attention to the touch of Christ. What compassion it showed, as no one else would have dared to touch a man in such a condition, in case they were defiled. The Lord says: “I will be thou clean,” and the man is immediately and completely made whole. The man is required by the Lord to tell no one else what has happened to him, but to fulfil the requirements of the law and show himself to the priest, who would ceremonially pronounce the man clean.

Continuing Ministry (verses 15-17)

However, the fame of what the Lord was able to do was spread even further, and great multitudes came to hear and to be healed. The Lord again withdraws from them all into the wilderness for a time of prayer with the Father. The impact that the Lord was making had come to the attention of the Pharisees and the doctors of the law, and they came from all the towns of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem to listen to Him. Note, Luke emphasises the power of the Lord that was present to heal, and how significant it is that power follows prayer, teaching us how dependent we are upon Him.

Luke chapter 4.31-44

The Galilean Ministry

The Lord travels to Capernaum to begin His Galilean ministry in earnest. This region was going to be extremely privileged to receive the ministry of the Lord Jesus and hear His teaching over the next 3 years. Luke tells us they were astonished at His doctrine, for His word came to them with authority and power.

The demon-possessed man

In the synagogue, the Lord is confronted with a man who is possessed by an unclean spirit. Firstly, the demon makes a request to be left alone. It also recognises that He is not only Jesus of Nazareth, but that He is indeed the Holy One of God. The demon also realises the power the Lord possesses to destroy it, and that there will come a time when that judgment will take place. But the Lord rebukes the demon, telling it to be silent and commanding it to come out of the man. The demon makes one last effort to harm the man and throws him into the middle of the company, but has to comply with the Lord’s command. The demon leaves the man and is not able to hurt him any further.

Reaction to what the Lord had done caused amazement once more, and they confessed that His authority and power was superior to that of demons, which could do nothing but obey His command. As a result, Jesus’ fame was spread through all the surrounding countryside.

Peter’s mother-in-law

Next, the Lord goes into Simon Peter’s house and finds that the latter’s mother in law is sick with a fever. We are told that they besought the Lord for her, which is a good principle to follow. When we know of those who are ill, it is a good practice to pray to the Lord for them. The Lord stands over her, making His presence felt, and rebukes the fever. Notice that, the instant He does this, she is not only cured of the fever but suffers no ill effects, as she is immediately able to serve them with food. Let us remember that He has raised us up too, and we have an obligation to serve Him because of what He has done for us!

The setting of the sun

It’s the end of a busy day at Capernaum, but, even at sunset, the Lord continues to work. People with different kinds of illnesses were brought to him from all around, and He healed them with His touch. Many demons were also cast out of people and, again, they cried out saying that He was the Christ the Son of God. Notice that the demons had no doubts about who the Lord Jesus was, but He would not allow them to speak of Him, for He would not receive witness from satanic sources.

Sought by the multitudes

When the morning came, the Lord went away into a barren place, but, even there, He was followed by the people. They appealed to Him to stay there with them, but the Lord makes it clear that He must preach about the Kingdom of God in other cities also. This was the will of God for Him and He must be faithful to His commission, so He went and preached in other synagogues throughout Galilee. The Lord could not be held back in His service for God by other people, however well-meaning they might be. He had come to do the will of God, and that was ever the priority in His earthly life.

Luke Chapter 4, 14 – 30

His Custom –

Nazareth was the home town of the Lord Jesus. It was the place where He had grown up, and yet, we are going to see, He was not accepted, even in His own town.

Habits are formed in every one of our lives, and some are good, while others are not. In growing up at Nazareth, the Lord had adopted only customs which were spiritually beneficial. Luke has already drawn attention to these customs in chapter 2, verse 42, when he tells us that Mary and Joseph, as their custom was, went up to the house of God at Jerusalem. Here, the Lord goes into the synagogue and stands up to read the word of God. How important it is to regularly be in a place where the scriptures are read and explained.

It says He found the place where it was written, by unrolling the scroll that contained Isaiah’s prophecy until He came to the place we now know as chapter 61. The Lord, as the Author of the scriptures, could easily have just quoted verbatim this particular passage. However, He took up the parchment in order to show them the authority of the written word of God.

His Commission

The words He read clearly applied to Him. He was anointed by the Spirit with a view to preaching the gospel to the poor. We have already noted the activity of the Divine Spirit in relation to the Lord: at His birth, the Spirit came upon Mary, and the Power of the Almighty overshadowed her. At His baptism, the Spirit descended like a dove upon Him. At His temptation, being full of the Holy Spirit, He was led into the wilderness, and, in verse 14 of this chapter, He returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. Truly, He is a picture of the Spirit-filled Man. We, as believers, are expected to be filled with the Holy Spirit, which is an ongoing experience.  As Paul says in Ephesians 5, “be filled with the Spirit,” that is, keep on being filled with the Spirit. We must give control of our lives over to the Holy Spirit of God.

Notice the categories of people that the Lord has in mind for blessing through His preaching: the broken-hearted, the bound, the blind and the bruised!

He came to make whole those who had been crushed by sin; to deliver away from the slavery that sin brings into the lives of people who cannot break its power; to open the eyes of those who were in spiritual darkness, blinded as to who He really was; to release, through His forgiveness, those whose lives were shattered through the calamities that come as a result of pursuing a sinful life. This is what the Spirit had anointed Him to do, and this, He told them, was the day when God was being favourable toward them. He told them this was the day of fulfilment for these scriptures, and they fastened their eyes on Him in amazement. However, some commented – no doubt in a disbelieving way – that this was Joseph’s son.

The Lord then shows to them that it was just out of curiosity that they were hoping He would do some miracle among them, as they had heard He had done elsewhere. He knew that here, in His own country, they did not honour Him as the Son of God. He cites two examples from their history to show how they had missed the blessing of God in the past because of unbelief. In Elijah’s day, when there was famine, God did not provide for His servant through just any widow in Israel. He sent Elijah to a woman in Sarepta, a city belonging to the Sidonians. Then again, in Elisha’s day, no lepers in Israel were cleansed by God, but Naaman the Syrian was! How fickle crowds can be. Previously, they had wondered at the gracious words He spoke (verse 22); now, they were filled with wrath. They forced Him out of their city, and were about to throw Him over the brow of the hill, but Jesus miraculously passed through the crowd and went His way!

Luke chapter 4.1-13

The Lord’s Temptation

The Location

Where did the temptation take place? Luke tells us it was in the wilderness, a barren unfertile place. This contrasts dramatically with Adam and Eve, who were tempted of the devil in the beauty and fruitfulness of the most wonderful garden the world has ever seen. Adam failed the test in perfect surroundings, but the Lord triumphed in adversity.

The Occasion

When did this take place? It follows immediately after the Lord’s baptism, when He received the commendation of the Father upon Him, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The devil immediately takes up the challenge, and seeks to test the reality of the statement that He is the Son of God! Note how he begins in verse 3: “If thou be the Son of God …”

The Spirit descends and remains upon Him in chapter 3.23, and now He returns, full of the Spirit from Jordan and, under the leading of the Spirit as a dependent Man, He goes into the wilderness. Note that he goes prepared in power, and does not shrink in any way from the encounter!

The Question

What was the purpose of the temptation? There are at least 3 reasons that could be given:

  1. To prove that Jesus was the Son of God, as the Father claimed Him to be.
  2. To prove that here was a Man who would triumph where Adam failed.
  3. To provide for us an example in overcoming Satan in temptation.

Adam and Eve were tempted in relation to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. These answer to the appeal to “Taste,” the fact that the tree was “Pleasant to the eyes,” and also that it was “To be desired to make one wise.” So, the devil follows the same pattern with the Lord, appealing to the need of His body through hunger, appealing to His dependence upon God – which in any other may have become a matter of pride – and appealing through the vision of kingdoms and their glory, which Satan brought powerfully before His eyes. However, the Lord Jesus could not respond to any of these!

The Temptation

What was involved in the temptation itself? Note the order emphasized by Luke: Verse 2 “When they were ended,” verse 5 “And the devil taking Him up,” verse 9 “And he brought Him to Jerusalem.” Note that the Lord was evidently being tempted over the whole 40 day period, and we are only told about the last three temptations, when the Lord was hungry after the long period of fasting.

Concerning verse 3, His ability to make the stone into bread was undeniable. He turned water into wine, so He could make stones into bread! However, this would have been to satisfy His own bodily needs, and the Lord could never perform a miracle for His own self-gratification! Observe how the Lord deals with the temptation. He resorted to scripture, quoting from Deuteronomy, chapter 8.3: “Man shall not live by bread only.” Note that he refers here both to the written word and the spoken word: “… every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” So, in the word of God there is Divine inspiration and also Divine provision. Also, we learn again that man is not only body, but soul and spirit. The physical, bodily needs we have are important, but not all-important!

In the first temptation, it is a test to physical necessity, but now, in the second, it is a test of desire for authority, and in the last it is a test of personal dependency. In verse 5, he shows Him all the kingdoms of this world, and in verse 6 he suggests to the Lord what he will give Him. So, by eye and ear, Satan appeals to the senses. Verse 7 demonstrates that this was not really for the Lord’s benefit, but for Satan’s, as it demanded He fall down and worship the devil before all would be His. The Lord again resorts to scripture, this time from Deuteronomy 6: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Scripture must always be our guide in every situation, no matter how personally beneficial something might appear to be!

Now, in verse 9, the devil sets Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and again challenges “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down.” Satan knew that the Lord had put Himself in a position of dependence, and challenges Him to display that dependence by throwing Himself off the temple pinnacle. Picking up the Lord’s adherence to scripture, he also quotes from Psalm 91 to try to imply a justification for the proposed action. However, notice that he inserts 3 words that are not in the original quotation: “… at any time …” Clearly, this was not the time for such an action, and the Lord again quotes from the book of Deuteronomy, 6.16: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” We must not tempt God by playing on His promises. So, the Lord was not going to put God to the test, just for the sake of it!

What an encouragement it is to see how he lived a life of dependence upon God. There were times of hunger and thirst, times of weariness, times when He had nowhere to lay His head, yet through it all, and even through the sufferings of the cross, He trusted in His God, from whom came deliverance.

The temptation gives us confidence that Satan can be overcome, and he departs from the Lord a defeated foe. How good to know that the Lord is not able to succumb to evil temptations, because He is absolutely holy. These forty days of testing show that He was absolutely who God said, none other than the perfect Son of God.

Luke Chapter 3.21-38

The Lord’s Baptism (verses 21-22)

The coming of Jesus

Both Matthew and Mark record that Jesus came from Galilee (Nazareth) to Jordan. The years of subjection to earthly parents and the obscurity of the hidden years were over. He who had come from Heaven to Bethlehem now comes from the reproach of Nazareth to Jordan, to commence His public ministry.

The concern of John

John at first objected, saying: “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” Without this comment we would perhaps have wondered why there was the need for Jesus to be baptized at all. He had no need of repentance, as He was inherently holy! However, the Lord instructs John that it was the right thing to do, and, in being baptized, He was identifying Himself with the righteous remnant in Israel who were prepared to stand for God. In this, we see the devotion of the Son to accomplish the work given to Him by the Father.

Communion in prayer

Only Luke records that Jesus was praying, and this is in keeping with the dependence of the Saviour in the gospel of the perfect Man. At least seven times in Luke, the Lord Jesus prays. On the mountain in solitude, in the garden in sorrow, on the cross in suffering, He cried to His God in supplication. What an example to encourage us to pray also in our dependence upon the Father.

Complacency of the Spirit

Heaven was opened upon Him. Here was a Man for whom there was no barrier between heaven above and earth beneath. In the day of millennial glory, the heaven will be open again, and the angels of God will be seen to ascend and descend upon the Son of man (John 1.51). However, here, it is the Holy Spirit who descends as a dove upon the baptized Christ. There is now a Man on earth that the Spirit of God can rest upon. The psalmist says: “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.” John’s gospel does not deal with the baptism as such, but he alone reveals the reason for the visible emblem of a dove being used. In John 1.33 the Baptist declares: “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth in the Holy Spirit.” Thus, John concludes: “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1.34).

The commendation of the Father

The visible sign of the Spirit is accompanied by the audible voice of the Father saying: “Thou art my beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.” In Mark and Luke the pleasure is more personal, as the Father directly addresses the Son. However, in Matthew it is more official, as He calls the attention of others to the Son of His great pleasure. This is of course true for all time, but may be a particular reflection upon the 30 years that are now past. The Lord Jesus confirmed the extent of this pleasure in John 8.29, when He said: “I do always those things that please Him.”

The context of the genealogy verses 23-38

The only genealogy found in the New Testament is that of the Lord Jesus. Someone has said it is because He was the only One who needed to prove His manhood (in Luke’s record) and His kingship (in Matthew’s record). In Luke, it is generally agreed that we have Mary’s genealogy, while Matthew presents the legal line through Joseph. However, both trace descent from David, which is essential to confirm the Lord’s right to Kingship. Luke also gives more extensive detail in tracing back to Adam, who was of God.

Note that the words “the son of” are not in the original text, with the exception of verse 23: “ … (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” Where there are differences in the names recorded, this can simply be explained by the fact that one is Joseph’s genealogy, while the other is Mary’s.

Thus, the Lord “began to be about 30 years of age.” What grace marks this statement! The patient waiting was over, and He had now reached the age when Levite service would officially begin. Mingled and anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit, the Father was saying to all: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth” (Isaiah 42.1).

Luke chapter 3, verses 1 – 20

John the Baptist

Suitable Man (verses 1 – 2)

Verse 1 underlines the darkness and difficulties of the time. It was the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, and the Jewish nation was under the dominion and yoke of Rome. The political and religious conditions were adverse, and corrupt leaders were both morally and spiritually bankrupt.

Thus, God sets them aside and bypasses the great in the eyes of men to take up the insignificant son of a priestly couple. “The word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” (verse 2). Here we have emphasised to us 3 matters:

  1. His selection– He was the sovereign choice of God. John 1.6 gives John his authority: “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.”
  2. Suitability – Being the son of Zacharias gives him a suitable pedigree and links him with the remnant group among the nation. Parental influence is a challenging matter, and we all need to determine what priorities we are setting for our families in the things of God.
  3. Separation– In the wilderness, he was a man set apart for God. His spiritual development is emphasised in chapter 1.80: “The child grew and waxed strong in spirit and was in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel.” He was a Nazarite from his mother’s womb and was separate in Appetite, Appearance and Association (see Numbers 6). His years in the wilderness were equipping him for Divine service. This is the order of things with God: private experience and personal growth must precede public service and responsibility!

Scriptural Ministry (verses 3 – 6)

  1. It was Prophetic – “And thou child shall be called the prophet of the Highest” (chapter 1.76). Chapter 3.3 indicates that Isaiah prophesied that John would come as “the voice of One crying in the wilderness,” and so did Malachi, where he is called “My messenger.” John’s preaching, too, was based upon Holy Scripture, as we can see from his reference here to Isaiah 40.
  2. It was Preparatory – Chapter 1.76 says again: “Thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways.” John was the herald of the coming King. The Lord is coming again, and we have a responsibility to preach and prepare others for that coming.
  3. It was Pointed – John’s task was to tell the people of the need to be in a fit condition for the coming of the King. The high were to be brought low, the crooked to be made straight, and the rough smooth. The grace of God ought to humble us, straighten us out and make us righteous and refine us for the presence of Christ. How will the Lord find us when He comes again?

Searching Message (verses 7 – 14)

John speaks to 3 groups of people who could be looked at in a representative way. They are the multitude, the tax collectors, and the soldiers. Notice the same question is repeated by each group, “What shall we do?” However, John does not answer them all in the same way, but in a way which is specific to the particular background of each group.

He stirs the social conscience of the multitude to meet the need of those around them, particularly with regard to food and clothing, the basic necessities of life.

To the tax collectors, he says: “Exact no more than that that is appointed you.” (No leeway to feather their own nest by defrauding others.)

To the soldiers he says: “No violence, no false accusation, and no discontent.”

This is what John means by “fruits worthy of repentance.” Likewise, we who have been saved have a responsibility to be model citizens and employees, and not to cheat, lie or steal for personal gain. It’s not for Christians to be involved in social unrest or political demonstrations, but we must also ask questions of ourselves in terms of doing good to all men, especially to those of the household of faith. It is a common enough question to ask: “What shall we do?” Some are asking: “What shall we do to be more acceptable?” Inevitably this leads to compromise. Others say: “What shall we do to be different?” This leads to all sorts of innovations being introduced. If only we were asking: “What shall we do to be more like Christ and more consistent with His word?” Conformity to Him is God’s ultimate purpose for us, and conviction about the truth of scripture would save us from liberal and modern trends.

Selfless Motivation (verses 15 – 18)

What a temptation for John in these verses. “The people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not.” There was the danger here of anointing the wrong man. Samuel almost did this when Eliab was brought before him, but God said: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him” (1st Samuel 16.7). Sometimes we judge after the outward appearance and settle on what is appealing to the flesh, but this will cause us to miss Christ. John knew there was room for only one Man to be anointed, and that was the Son of God.

Here the thrust of popularity was within John’s grasp, but it would have been a denial of his own ministry. No, John was clear of personal ambition and, like Paul later, sought only to magnify Christ. Christ was greater in might, moral worth and ministry, and John is happy to confess this here. It is at this point that God introduces the Man in whom is expressed every moral grace and dignity. He is the “chiefest among ten thousand,” the “altogether lovely” One (Song of Solomon ch. 5, vv. 10 and 16).

The Lord could speak of John’s greatness, but it was not for John to do that. May we learn that He alone assesses the worth of His servants, and we should learn not to think of men above that which is written. Perhaps that is a lesson we have still not taken on board, despite the disasters of the past.

Are we seeking only to promote Christ? What sayest thou of thyself? John replies: “I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose the latchet of His shoes.” Could it be that we have lost in our souls a sense of wonder at the worth of the Lord Jesus?

John knew why Christ was coming and what He was capable of doing. His baptism in the Holy Spirit was accomplished at Pentecost, and the baptism with fire has yet to come. One speaks of the provisions of the Lord through the Spirit, and the other of the punishment of those who are identified here as the chaff, fit only to be burned up. The Lord here is the Divine winnower. He will separate the chaff from the wheat as he separates the saved from the lost. However, there is another aspect to this, as the Lord deals with His own people, to remove the chaff from our lives. Thus, in Haggai’s day “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of Hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man to his own house” (Haggai 1.9). This is a characteristic of our own day: the Lord’s things are no longer first. They may have a place, but they are not the top priority over every other issue. Maybe He has been blowing upon us in order to bring us back to himself.

 Stand Morally (verses 19 – 20)

John stood against the immoral relationship Herod had with Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. He told Herod: “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” John spoke out on more than one occasion, and, as a result of this, Herod put him in prison. Ultimately John paid for his righteous stand by being beheaded at the request of the daughter of Herodias.

Luke chapter 2.25-52

The Meeting with Simeon (verses 25-35)

Simeon is another of the faithful remnant in Israel who was waiting for the coming of the promised Messiah.  He lived in Jerusalem and was righteous in his living and devoted to God.  Note the import of the Holy Spirit in this man’s life.

Separation in Service

“The Holy Spirit was upon him” (verse 25). God had set him apart for service by the Holy Spirit.  How important to know that we are fulfilling our Spirit-given service today!

Revelation through the Spirit

God had given him a revelation by the Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Christ.

Direction in the Spirit

The Spirit of God controlled his movements.  So, he was led by the Spirit into the temple and was there when Mary and Joseph brought in the young child Jesus.  The messianic identity of the child was confirmed as Simeon received the Lord Jesus up into his arms and blessed God.  He recognised that this child was the Christ and that, having seen Christ, he could now depart this life in peace.  Simeon acknowledges the sovereignty of God over him as he says: “Sovereign Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.”  He also speaks words of prophesy, declaring that salvation light and glory would be found in the child before him.  Mary and Joseph were amazed at the things that were said, and Simeon blessed them.  He then revealed directly to Mary that Jesus would cause the fall and rising-up again of many in Israel and would be spoken against as the reasoning of many hearts would be revealed.  He let Mary know that she herself would also suffer in her soul at the things that would happen, as if a sword had pierced her.

Anna the prophetess (verses 36-38)

Her sorrow recorded

Anna was a godly woman who lived in the temple, and she was very old, possibly even over one hundred years of age!  She had been widowed after only seven years of marriage and had been a widow for eighty-four years.

Her service unhindered

Luke emphasises her separated life to God in the temple, where she served Him night and day with fasting and praying.

Her speech focused on Christ

Anna came in when Jesus was there, and she also gave thanks to God for Him and continually spoke about Him to those in Israel who looked for redemption through the Messiah.

After everything required by the law had been fulfilled, they returned to Nazareth in Galilee.  Luke records that the child grew, was strong in spirit and full of wisdom as the grace of God rested upon Him.

The doctors of the law and Jesus’ growth (verses 39 – 52)

Mary and Joseph made the journey to Jerusalem at Passover time every year.  When Jesus was 12 years old, they made this same journey to keep the feast.  When the Passover was over, Jesus waited behind at Jerusalem when the others started the journey back home, but Mary and Joseph were not aware of this.  Their supposition led to a day without Christ, and, when they couldn’t find Him, they turned back to Jerusalem looking for Him.  It took them 3 further days to find Him sitting in the temple with the teachers, hearing them and asking them questions.  All those that heard Him were amazed at His understanding and answers.  Mary and Joseph were also amazed, and Mary questioned Him as to why He had dealt with them in such a way, causing them to look for Him with great sorrow.  Jesus said: “How is it that you sought Me?  Do you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (speaking of His Father in heaven).  Mary and Joseph didn’t really understand what He meant.

After that, Jesus went with them to Nazareth and submitted to them, but Mary retained all these things in her heart.

So, Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.  Someone has said of His growth that “there was development but not improvement, as He was perfect at every stage He passed through.”