Last week we explored the message and mission of the great prophet, John the Baptist, as he prepared the people for the coming of Jesus Christ. This week we mark the beginning of Jesus Christ earthly ministry, as he comes to John the Baptist to be baptized.
As the crowds question whether John the Baptist is the Messiah, John corrects them and says the Messiah is so far greater than himself that he is not worthy to untie a strap of his sandals (v.16).
- What does this expression mean and why is it important?
One of the major differences between John and the Messiah is that John baptizes with water while the Messiah will baptize with the Spirit and fire (v.16).
- What does John mean by a baptism of Spirit and fire?
- Identify the leading historical moment where baptism by fire and Spirit took place for the church?
Last week John said that every tree that does not bear fruit would be cut down (Luke 3:9). This week John says that the Messiah has a “winnowing fork” in his hand and is coming to separate the grain from the chaff (v.17). John is speaking to the reality of judgment in these two images.
- How is judgment a part of the ministry and mission of Jesus? How should the reality of judgment give shape to our lives?
We sometimes live with the false assumption that if we obey and do everything right our lives will be smooth. Not so! In verses 19-20, we see that John the Baptist is imprisoned for preaching a faithful gospel message.
- Have you ever been ridiculed or attacked because of your faith?
- Is there an area in your life right now where you are resisting obedience in fear of the consequences? If so, share with a friend or your HFG to pray for faith and courage to do what you know is right.
What does the Father’s voice from heaven and the descending of the dove at the baptism of Jesus teach us about God? How does the baptism of Jesus prefigure his ministry? (v.20-22)