With Luke chapter 3, John the Baptist comes on to the scene. If we go back to 1:11-17, we recall that John would have a very specific role. What is of keenest importance here is that God had not spoken to, and heaven had been silent towards, Israel since the end of the ministry of the prophet Malachi, thought to have ended about 425 BC. This being about 5 BC; there has been a 420 year period of silence. This very thing had been prophesied by Amos in 8:11+12; who ministered, so it is thought, between the years 765 and 750 BC, at least some 325 years before the silence commenced. Israel had not heard from her God in more than 400 years! So, with the coming of John onto the scene, it is no surprise then that crowds came unto him, as there had been a growing anticipation over all that time. And, why so much anticipation? God had given Israel 7 distinct promises and prophesies early in their history, and He had brought about the sovereign fulfillment of 6 of those within the pages of their Bible, our Old Testament. They knew that He’d been faithful throughout all their history to fulfill His promises. And, they knew there was just one more: Messiah! And that before Messiah, He would send a forerunner; one who would announce Messiah’s coming. This was John’s purpose.
If 1:11-17 tells us anything, it says that John’s ministry would have much to do with the subject of #6, repentance. See the expressions ‘bring back,’ ‘turn the hearts,’ and ‘to make ready,’ as describing this. And so, we see he is fulfilling that very role, as 3:3 says that his message revolved around the call to repent! Note also, how clearly this matter of repentance has much to do with ‘the forgiveness of sins‘. We already saw in 1:77 that ‘salvation [is] through the forgiveness of sins,’ and so, now we see that in order for the forgiveness of sins to take place that salvation might result, one sure requirement for this forgiveness unto salvation is… #6, repentance! Further, true repentance must obviously result in some kind of outward manifestations in a person’s life, specifically the ‘good fruit‘ of verse 9. This would be a reference to #9, New Life after forgiveness and the New Birth.
From chapter 3:1-20, we may note 5 more things. First, John is unequivocal about there being a fiery #3, judgment for all who do not repent. See verses 7, 9 and 17. He is being literal! Second, forgiveness and salvation, or fiery judgment revolve entirely around the difference between those who have #2, sins, and those who have been forgiven them. Third, This forgiveness is also to result in the baptism with the Holy Spirit by Jesus of verse 16, which is elsewhere described as #8, the New Birth. There is allusion to the blessed eternal state of those forgiven in verse 17, which is #10, the Kingdom. And, finally, all of this, and the very determination between those having sins, and those forgiven and Born Again, has everything to do with #4, a Savior, as verse 6 states. And, we can be absolutely certain of this because of what we already saw in 2:11 and 30, that Jesus is ‘God’s salvation’! Just how will Jesus save? It’s what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell