7601 - Foretelling Jesus

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John the Baptist helped prepare the people of Israel for something greater that they could understand.

We have been studying through Luke, Chapter 3. We have been looking at the ministry of John the Baptist. Even before birth, God had destined John to be the prophet who would come before Jesus.

Even before he was conceived an angel told Zechariah, his father, that this son of his would be the one to go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah. His task was to prepare the hearts of the people to recognize and respond positively to the coming Messiah.

Great crowds were drawn to John the Baptist and many had the same question. Let’s read Luke 3, verses 15-18:
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.

What was the big question which lingered in the minds of many of the people who went out to the Jordan wilderness to hear this unusual man? They wanted to know if John the Baptist could indeed be the Messiah himself.

Then John answered their question by pointing to One more powerful than himself. “I’m not worthy to untie His sandal,” he replied. John tells the people that he will baptize them with water unto repentance; however, this greater One will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. The baptism with the Holy Spirit was initialized at Pentecost. This was after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, at which time He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell each and every believer.

The baptism by fire could also be reference to the tongues of fire which came upon the believers at Pentecost. This was an act of purification and refining of the believers.

A second application could be the fire of judgment as conveyed in verse 17. This verse gives the vivid picture of a farmer winnowing the straw and grain left on the threshing floor by the old time process of beating the harvested plants in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. The threshing floor was usually on an elevated place where the breeze could blow away the useless chaff when the mixture was tossed into the air. The whole wheat kernels would fall to the floor where they could be gathered and sacked for useful purpose. The chaff was burned because it was useless.

“Winnowing” is often used in the Bible to picture God’s judgment.

So in the life of a believer the fire is a positive cleansing by the Lord, of each believer. This will result in the full kernels of wheat being gathered into his barn after it is threshed.

Whereas, for unbelievers the fire is the result of an earthly life in which every invitation for reconciliation, forgiveness and cleansing is rejected by each unbeliever, even though the Lord has kept his arms open and extended with the invitation to come and take the water of life.

It is sad to contemplate the eternal, unquenchable fire in which unbelievers will experience torment day and night for ever and ever (Rev. 20:10, 15). And to think, they pass into this torment by choosing to close out their life in the state of independence, and in rebellion against God.

In review, we understand that John the Baptist’s answer was clear and firm – I am not the Messiah. He is coming and he is the one who must exercise his authority in separating the eternal useful from the eternal chaff.

Where do you fit into this picture?