Luke 3* John the Baptist's ministry. (1-14) John the Baptist testifiesconcerning Christ. (15-20) The baptism of Christ. (21,22) Thegenealogy of Christ. (23-38)1-14 The scope and design of John's ministry were, to bring thepeople from their sins, and to their Saviour. He came preaching,not a sect, or party, but a profession; the sign or ceremony waswashing with water. By the words here used John preached thenecessity of repentance, in order to the remission of sins, andthat the baptism of water was an outward sign of that inwardcleansing and renewal of heart, which attend, or are the effectsof true repentance, as well as a profession of it. Here is thefulfilling of the Scriptures, #Isa 40:3|, in the ministry ofJohn. When way is made for the gospel into the heart, by takingdown high thoughts, and bringing them into obedience to Christ,by levelling the soul, and removing all that hinders us in theway of Christ and his grace, then preparation is made to welcomethe salvation of God. Here are general warnings and exhortationswhich John gave. The guilty, corrupted race of mankind is becomea generation of vipers; hateful to God, and hating one another.There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but byrepentance; and by the change of our way the change of our mindmust be shown. If we are not really holy, both in heart andlife, our profession of religion and relation to God and hischurch, will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will ourdestruction be, if we do not bring forth fruits meet forrepentance. John the Baptist gave instructions to several sortsof persons. Those that profess and promise repentance, must showit by reformation, according to their places and conditions. Thegospel requires mercy, not sacrifice; and its design is, toengage 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 thesoldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against thetemptations of their employments. These answers declared thepresent duty of the inquirers, and at once formed a test oftheir sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ's salvationwithout true repentance, so the evidence and effects of thisrepentance are here marked out. 15-20 John the Baptist disowned being himself the Christ, butconfirmed the people in their expectations of the long-promisedMessiah. He could only exhort them to repent, and assure them offorgiveness upon repentance; but he could not work repentance inthem, nor confer remission on them. Thus highly does it becomeus to speak of Christ, and thus humbly of ourselves. John can dono more than baptize with water, in token that they ought topurify and cleanse themselves; but Christ can, and will baptizewith the Holy Ghost; he can give the Spirit, to cleanse andpurify the heart, not only as water washes off the dirt on theoutside, but as fire clears out the dross that is within, andmelts down the metal, that it may be cast into a new mould. Johnwas an affectionate preacher; he was beseeching; he pressedthings home upon his hearers. He was a practical preacher;quickening them to their duty, and directing them in it. He wasa popular preacher; he addressed the people, according to theircapacity. He was an evangelical preacher. In all hisexhortations, he directed people to Christ. When we press dutyupon people, we must direct them to Christ, both forrighteousness and strength. He was a copious preacher; heshunned not to declare the whole counsel of God. But a full stopwas put to John's preaching when he was in the midst of hisusefulness. Herod being reproved by him for many evils, shut upJohn 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 hadnone to confess; but he prayed, as others did, and kept upcommunion with his Father. Observe, all the three voices fromheaven, by which the Father bare witness to the Son, werepronounced while he was praying, or soon after, #Lu 9:35; Joh12:28|. The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a doveupon him, and there came a voice from heaven, from God theFather, from the excellent glory. Thus was a proof of the HolyTrinity, of the Three Persons in the Godhead, given at thebaptism of Christ. 23-38 Matthew's list of the forefathers of Jesus showed thatChrist was the son of Abraham, in whom all the families of theearth are blessed, and heir to the throne of David; but Lukeshows that Jesus was the Seed of the woman that should break theserpent's head, and traces the line up to Adam, beginning withEli, or Heli, the father, not of Joseph, but of Mary. Theseeming differences between the two evangelists in these listsof names have been removed by learned men. But our salvationdoes not depend upon our being able to solve these difficulties,nor is the Divine authority of the Gospels at all weakened bythem. The list of names ends thus, "Who was the son of Adam, theson of God;" that is, the offspring of God by creation. Christwas both the son of Adam and the Son of God, that he might be aproper Mediator between God and the sons of Adam, and mightbring the sons of Adam to be, through him, the sons of God. Allflesh, as descended from the first Adam, is as grass, andwithers as the flower of the field; but he who partakes of theHoly Spirit of life from the Second Adam, has that eternalhappiness, which by the gospel is preached unto us.
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