Luke 3

* John the Baptist's ministry. (1-14) John the Baptist testifies

concerning Christ. (15-20) The baptism of Christ. (21,22) The

genealogy of Christ. (23-38)

1-14 The scope and design of John's ministry were, to bring the

people from their sins, and to their Saviour. He came preaching,

not a sect, or party, but a profession; the sign or ceremony was

washing with water. By the words here used John preached the

necessity of repentance, in order to the remission of sins, and

that the baptism of water was an outward sign of that inward

cleansing and renewal of heart, which attend, or are the effects

of true repentance, as well as a profession of it. Here is the

fulfilling of the Scriptures, #Isa 40:3|, in the ministry of

John. When way is made for the gospel into the heart, by taking

down high thoughts, and bringing them into obedience to Christ,

by levelling the soul, and removing all that hinders us in the

way of Christ and his grace, then preparation is made to welcome

the salvation of God. Here are general warnings and exhortations

which John gave. The guilty, corrupted race of mankind is become

a generation of vipers; hateful to God, and hating one another.

There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but by

repentance; and by the change of our way the change of our mind

must be shown. If we are not really holy, both in heart and

life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his

church, will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will our

destruction be, if we do not bring forth fruits meet for

repentance. John the Baptist gave instructions to several sorts

of persons. Those that profess and promise repentance, must show

it by reformation, according to their places and conditions. The

gospel requires mercy, not sacrifice; and its design is, to

engage us to do all the good we can, and to be just to all men.

And the same principle which leads men to forego unjust gain,

leads to restore that which is gained by wrong. John tells the

soldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against the

temptations of their employments. These answers declared the

present duty of the inquirers, and at once formed a test of

their sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ's salvation

without true repentance, so the evidence and effects of this

repentance are here marked out.
15-20 John the Baptist disowned being himself the Christ, but

confirmed the people in their expectations of the long-promised

Messiah. He could only exhort them to repent, and assure them of

forgiveness upon repentance; but he could not work repentance in

them, nor confer remission on them. Thus highly does it become

us to speak of Christ, and thus humbly of ourselves. John can do

no more than baptize with water, in token that they ought to

purify and cleanse themselves; but Christ can, and will baptize

with the Holy Ghost; he can give the Spirit, to cleanse and

purify the heart, not only as water washes off the dirt on the

outside, but as fire clears out the dross that is within, and

melts down the metal, that it may be cast into a new mould. John

was an affectionate preacher; he was beseeching; he pressed

things home upon his hearers. He was a practical preacher;

quickening them to their duty, and directing them in it. He was

a popular preacher; he addressed the people, according to their

capacity. He was an evangelical preacher. In all his

exhortations, he directed people to Christ. When we press duty

upon people, we must direct them to Christ, both for

righteousness and strength. He was a copious preacher; he

shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God. But a full stop

was put to John's preaching when he was in the midst of his

usefulness. Herod being reproved by him for many evils, shut up

John in prison. Those who injure the faithful servants of God,

add still greater guilt to their other sins.
21,22 Christ did not confess sin, as others did, for he had

none to confess; but he prayed, as others did, and kept up

communion with his Father. Observe, all the three voices from

heaven, by which the Father bare witness to the Son, were

pronounced while he was praying, or soon after, #Lu 9:35; Joh

12:28|. The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove

upon him, and there came a voice from heaven, from God the

Father, from the excellent glory. Thus was a proof of the Holy

Trinity, of the Three Persons in the Godhead, given at the

baptism of Christ.
23-38 Matthew's list of the forefathers of Jesus showed that

Christ was the son of Abraham, in whom all the families of the

earth are blessed, and heir to the throne of David; but Luke

shows that Jesus was the Seed of the woman that should break the

serpent's head, and traces the line up to Adam, beginning with

Eli, or Heli, the father, not of Joseph, but of Mary. The

seeming differences between the two evangelists in these lists

of names have been removed by learned men. But our salvation

does not depend upon our being able to solve these difficulties,

nor is the Divine authority of the Gospels at all weakened by

them. The list of names ends thus, "Who was the son of Adam, the

son of God;" that is, the offspring of God by creation. Christ

was both the son of Adam and the Son of God, that he might be a

proper Mediator between God and the sons of Adam, and might

bring the sons of Adam to be, through him, the sons of God. All

flesh, as descended from the first Adam, is as grass, and

withers as the flower of the field; but he who partakes of the

Holy Spirit of life from the Second Adam, has that eternal

happiness, which by the gospel is preached unto us.
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