Expectations and Fulfilment
Expectations and Fulfilment Lk 3:1-22 (15-22)
(MT 3:1-17, MK 1:1-11, JN 1:19-34)
Sunday December 26, 2004. Maranatha Baptist Church
For many the Joy of Christmas is expectation. Some look forward to particular presents, some to family gatherings, or for others, the person and work of Christ.
How did you make out this year? Many people I talked with were particularly startled with how quick Christmas came upon them. They still remember summer bbq’s.
John the Baptist was ministering in a time of expectation. In the passage that we looked at this morning in Luke we see John the Baptist confronted with his and the people’s expectations. He has to deal with who he sees himself as in God’s plan and how the God of the universe uses him in unexpected ways.
Each of us is approaching 2005 with expectations of what we are called to do and what God expects. Luke 3 can give an example and lesson for us in expecations, showing us 1) expectations confused, 2) expectations challenged and 3) expectations confirmed.
1) Expectations confused Lk 3:15-18
Luke 3:15-18 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; 16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.
For the people of The Intertestamental Period before Christ, they were a people of expectations. The period from the book of Malachi at the end of our Old Testament to the opening of Matthew at the beginning of our New Testament comprises about 400 years. These 400 "silent years" were only silent in the sense that there were no prophets from God who were writing Scripture. They were years which brought about dramatic and sweeping changes throughout the ancient world. These changes began with the arrival of a conqueror from the west known as Alexander the Great.
With the advent of Alexander the Great a new type of civilization entered Palestine. Alexander began a deliberate and decisive campaign to bring in a one world government with Greek civilization being the catalyst around which it would be developed.
He imposed on the Middle East the Greek language, Greek society, Greek customs, and most importantly, he attempted to blend together all religions in the world of his influence into a single religion which used Greek nomenclatures and theological opinions as its basis. This concept of "one worldism" (known as Hellenism) began to penetrate into the consciousness of most people of the Middle East. And though at first the Jews resisted its influence, with the death of the High Priest Simon (called the Just) in about 280 B.C. the end of what we might call "the Old Testament form of religion" came into view.
Please turn back to Malachi 3
Herford, Talmud and Apocrypha, p. 77: "There was no escape from that influence [Hellenism]. It was present everywhere, in the street and the market, in the everyday life and all phases of social intercourse."
The people of John the Baptist’s day, had not heard a genuine prophet in Israel for 400 years. It was widely believed that when the Messiah came, prophecy would reappear (Joel 2:28-29, Mal. 3:1, 4:5).
Malachi 3:1; Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
When John burst onto the scene, the people were excited but confused.
Luke 3:15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
He was obviously a great prophet, the Last of the Old covenant prophets (MT. 11:11-14), and they were sure that the eagerly awaited age of the Messiah has come. Some in fact, thought John himself was the Messiah.
John you see spoke like the prophets of old saying that the people must turn from heir sin to God to avoid punishment and to experience his mercy and approval.
- Everything about John was unexpected: His sudden emergence, manner of dress, choice of food, preaching and baptizing.
Our children dealt with expectations around Christmas: some got toys they wanted, others are hopeful for future gifts. One child expressed it in regards to the end of the year:
We come therefore to the consideration of the age.
How did John and how can we see ourselves in the age of the Messiah?
Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
not worthy: In the rabbinic schools a student did not pay his teacher. He was required to perform services, but not the loosing of the sandal, which was considered too menial. John took a lowly place.
To unfasten the “sandal strap” was a task for a slave; hence John emphasizes his unworthiness in relation to Jesus.
Many of us know that we are unworthy of the Lord’s mercies:
Genesis 32:10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant…
Yet if we begin to love those mercies too much we loose focus from the giver to the gifts:
Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
The way to be used, (like the position that John was talking) is to see our place in God’s plan. We are not worthy of the honor but called none the less.
Now that we understand our position, what is the plan?
Luke 16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.
Please turn to 2 Peter 3
The baptism with fire the immediate fulfillment came at Pentecost:
Acts 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
The ultimate fulfillment of the Baptist’s words awaits Christ’s glorious return to cleanse the earth with fire:
2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
The winnowing fan (v. 17) is another symbol for judgment. Workers used the fan to throw harvested grain into the wind, letting the grains fall directly to the ground and the chaff blow away. When the threshing floor was cleared, the chaff would be burned.
We have seen the 1) Expectations confused, and now:
2) Expectations challenged
Luke 3:19-20 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.
I am sure it must have been difficult for John the Baptist. Called for a tremendous honour, the baptism of The Lord Jesus Christ himself at the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. John probably expected to work and minister with Jesus only then to be imprisoned for doing the vary thing he was called to do. He would miss being with Jesus first hand for his public works and learn at the feet of the one he was called to bring people to.
One of the greatest challenges of ministry is that we may do the work and never see the fruit in our lifetime:
Hebrews 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
Most parents recognize that they will not be around forever to see their children develop. We train them so that when we are not around, they will respond appropriately. A legacy in business, family or faith, is recognizing that although we may work diligently, we may not see the fruits of our labor.
- Even in a context as ours: Many support the building of the gym financially and with prayer yet will never see the fruit that the structure can bring.
What prevented John the Baptist from seeing and joining in the ministry of the one he heralded? It was Herald Antipas
Herod Antipas, on a visit to Rome, met Herodias, the wife of his half brother Philip, who was a hostage there. Herod Antipas persuaded his brother to divorce Herodias so that he might marry her, even though he himself was already married to the daughter of the king of Nabatea. This was a clear case of adultery.
· John the Baptizer denounced this scandalous deed, and Herod imprisoned him in the fortress of Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea.
Like the imprisonment and beheading of John the Baptist, it is confusing from our standpoint at times to be called to do the right thing, do the right thing and suffer because of it. We have looked at current persecution in the world. We may very well suffer for doing the right thing. In fact it is unusual in this day and age not to suffer rejection and some type of persecution to some degree for being faithful.
We have seen the 1) Expectations confused, 2) Expectations challenged and now
3) Expectations confirmed.
First with: the Baptism of the Son
Lk 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
From the account of Jesus’ Baptism in Mt 3, Jesus is said to have arrived
· Arrived is from paraginomai, which, as we saw in relation to the magi (2:1) and John the Baptist (“came,” 3:1), which was often used to indicate an official arrival or public appearance.
There is continuity between John’s baptism of repentance (Mark 1:4) and the trinitarian baptism instituted by Jesus (Matt. 28:19). Both were symbols of cleansing, and had remission of sins in view (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38). But they were not identical.
· Those baptized by John needed Christian baptism as well (Acts 19:5). John’s baptism was a preparatory rite, signifying readiness for the coming of the Christ and for His judgment (Matt. 3:7–12; Luke 3:7–18; Acts 19:4).
His baptism was for confession of sin and repentance (Mt. 3:2, 6, 11), of which he himself had need; but Jesus had no sins to confess or be forgiven of.
Why did Jesus Insist he be baptized?:
Jesus Himself explains to John His reason for wanting to be baptized.
Matthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness…
Jesus did not deny that He was spiritually superior to John or that He was sinless.
· Jesus came to John specifically to be baptized by him, as indicated by the aorist passive infinitive (baptistheµnai), which emphasizes purpose.
But the idea of Jesus’ being baptized by him was unthinkable to John. It was not what
he expected. He not only knew Jesus’ human identity but His divine identity. The apostle John tells us that John the Baptist “saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:29)
· Even when we are trying to be obedient to our calling, God may ask of us what we don’t expect. And we may have to do it in a way we were not prepared for.
- For kids: Often our parents ask us to do things that don’t make sense or they ask us to do it in a way we don’t understand. What we often fail to realize, is that those who have come before us have experience that directs us to act in a certain manner.
- For all of us: The deacons have been working many hours month after month in this building project. They all expected it to be completed by now and have the funding. We stand now still looking for financing and must currently stop building until we get it in.
- God has called us to do something in a way we did not expect.
I mentioned the warning referring to MT. 10:37, if we begin to love those mercies too much we loose focus from the giver to the gifts:
- No one knows the specific reason why we were stopped from continuing to build. Perhaps we need to refocus on God and or He is testing us to see why we are genuinely building.
Nevertheless, God is permitting it for a purpose.
In Matthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: Other translations give the phrase: “Permit it at this time”. This was an idiom meaning that the act of His baptism, though not seemingly appropriate, was indeed appropriate for this special time.
Jesus understood John’s reluctance and knew that it came from deep spiritual commitment and sincerity. He assured the prophet that in this way it is fitting, and went on to explain to John that His baptism was important for both of their ministries, to fulfill all righteousness. For God’s plan to be perfectly fulfilled, it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized and to be baptized specifically by John.
It seems that one reason Jesus submitted to baptism was to give an example of obedience to His followers.
Eg., As the King of kings Jesus recognized that He had no ultimate obligation to pay taxes in Mt. 17:25-27 to a human government. In every case, Jesus modeled obedience.
Please turn to Isa. 53
In His baptism He acknowledged that John’s standard of righteousness was valid and in action affirmed it as the will of God to which men are to be subject.
The Scripture makes it clear that Jesus came into the world to identify with human kind; and to identify with human kind is to identify with sin. He could not purchase righteousness for mankind if He did not identify with mankind’s sin. Hundreds of years before Christ’s coming, Isaiah had declared that the Messiah
Isaiah 53:11-12 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Jesus’ baptism also represented the willing identification of the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save.
Jesus’ baptism not only was a symbol of His identity with sinners but was also a symbol of His death and resurrection, and therefore a prefiguremerit of Christian baptism. Jesus made only two other references to personal baptism, and each related to His death. Not long before His final trip to Jerusalem He told His disciples:
Luke 12:50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
On the other occasion He was responding to the request by James and John that they be given the top positions in His heavenly kingdom Jesus answered:
Mark 10:38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
Jesus’ supreme identification with sinners was His taking their sin upon Himself, which He did at Calvary.
Though John, having been given such a brief explanation, could not possibly have comprehended the full meaning of Jesus’ baptism, he accepted His Lord’s word and obeyed.
· We do not have access to the entire plan of God and his expectations may seem out of character yet we care called in the face of such situations to be equally accepting and obedient
We have seen the 1) Baptism of the Son, and now:
2) The Anointing of the Spirit
Luke 3:21-22 21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
Why did the Holy Spirit come upon Jesus?
When He became a man, Jesus did not lose His divinity. He was still fully God in every way. In His deity He needed nothing. But in His humanity He was here being anointed for service and granted strength for ministry. The Spirit anointed Him for His kingly service.
Among other things, the Spirit of God came upon Jesus in His humanness in a special way (John 3:34) that empowered Him to cast out demons (Matt. 12:28), to do miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 2:22), and to preach (cf. Acts 10:38). Like every human being, Jesus became tired and hungry and sleepy. His humanness needed strengthening, and that needed strength was given by the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:14).
Please turn to Acts 10
Jesus’ anointing with the Holy Spirit was unique. It was given to empower Him in His humanness, but it was also given as a visible, confirming sign to John the Baptist and to everyone else watching. Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the great King whose coming the Lord had called John to announce and to prepare men for. The descent of the Spirit to rest upon Jesus was His anointing by God for His mission as the Messiah (the “Anointed One”; cf. Acts 10:37, 38).
Acts 10:37-38 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Let me deal with a personal expectation. The text just mentioned about oppression from Satan. This week the Elders went to a family that had visual and auditory presence of the supernatural. On a personal level I would rather have done anything else. Like John, I felt unprepared to do the task asked. I did not know what to expect. All I knew is that it was a legitimate calling that would need the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
I will leave the results for a further testimony, but as an example of expectations, I could not think of a greater example, like John, of a calling to do the unexpected.
What comforted me on a human level was knowing of specific people that were praying for this specific task.
For all of us, who does the Spirit come to:
Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
Your expectation might be that you said a prayer and think that you are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Yet, the key indicator of a true Christian is fruit of obedience.
The Holy Spirit is only given to true Christians and a true Christian is one who is habitually obedient.
We have seen the 1) Baptism of the Son, 2) The Anointing of the Spirit and now:
3)The Confirmation by the Father
Luke 3: 22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
The voice from heaven alludes to:
Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
· Jesus did not become the Son of God at His baptism, for this He was from the beginning (cf. John 1:1–18; Col. 1:13–20; Heb. 1:1–3).
· The divine voice only ratified and publicly proclaimed an already existing sonship, Jesus’ sonship precedes messiahship. even demons recognize at the beginning of His ministry (Mark 1:23–26; Luke 4:33–35).
For a sacrifice to be acceptable to God it must be pure, spotless, without blemish (Ex. 12:5; Lev. 1:3; Deut. 17:1; etc.). Of this One who willingly identified Himself with sinners by His baptism and who was marked by the Holy Spirit as the dove of sacrifice, the Father now said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.
As we heard earlier:
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
- This is a forensic/legal imputation of Christ’s Righteousness No Old Testament sacrifice, no matter how carefully selected, had ever been truly pleasing to God. It was not possible to find an animal that did not have some blemish, some imperfection. Not only that, but the blood of those animals was at best only symbolic, “for:
Heb. 10:4 it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”
But the sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross would be “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:19). Thus God could say He was well-pleased with the perfection of Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 17:5; John 12:28, where God repeats this superlative commendation).
Finally, turn to Ephesians 1
As believers, we too are a delight to the Father, because we are now in the Son. Because the Father finds no imperfection in His Son, He now by His grace finds no imperfection in those who trust in Him
Ephesians 1:3-6 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In our dealing with expectations and their fulfillment We must realize that often our expectations can be confused, and challenged, but if we are truly in Christ, and our desire is His desire, then our expectations will ultimately be confirmed.