Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 5 Study # 4
Thesis: The absolute centrality of Jesus is inescapable.
Introduction: We live in extremely dangerous days of significant delusion. In 2 Timothy 3, the apostle Paul warned Timothy that "in the latter days, perilous times would come" when the chief characteristic of man would be that he would be a "lover of himself" while retaining a "form of godliness". These days are upon us as we see the explosion of "religious fervor" that is markedly apostate both in "words" and "actions". But Paul also urged Timothy to "continue in the things" which he had "learned" and "had followed". What we learn from this is that there is only one way to keep from being "boiled alive" by the disintegration of godliness in the face of the exponential growth of the mystery of iniquity: we must give heed to the Truth of God as it is revealed in Jesus Christ.
As we turn our attention once again to Luke's "Perspective of Jesus", one thing stands out extremely clearly: in Luke 3:21-22 Luke made Jesus the central issue. This morning we are going to give some thought to his words about what happened because Jesus "prayed".
May 28, 2006
- I. The Links of the Text.
- A. There is no escape from the central issue: can a man be "right" with God by any means other than coming to Him in the humility of "snakiness"?
- B. There should be no mistake about the "connections" between Luke's words about Jesus and this central issue.
- 1. Luke presented Jesus as "being baptized by John" so that we would understand that there is no escape from John's "repentance" thesis.
- a. This "thesis" had two parts: it offered full forgiveness through redemption and sufficient power for a regenerated life.
- b. This "thesis" was also unyielding about the fact that there will be no acceptance before God when the "repentance" is "faked": John demanded that those whom he baptized "bring forth fruit worthy of repentance."
- c. This "thesis" was produced in history at the very point in time when the mystery of iniquity had peaked in the nation of Israel and was producing shear hypocrisy in every level of the culture of the nation.
- 2. Luke presented Jesus as "praying" so that we would understand that Jesus was calling for a Father-involvement with Him in His deliberate "baptism" into John's thesis.
- 3. Luke presented Heaven's response so that we would understand that Heaven is in full agreement with Jesus' agreement with John.
- II. The Claims of the Text.
- A. Luke claims that, because of Who Jesus is, when He prayed, "Heaven was opened".
- 1. We cannot know what actually happened visually when Heaven was opened.
- 2. We cannot not know what the meaning is: The God of Heaven -- the Sovereign of Eternal Life and Death -- is actually recorded as "phenomenally acting" in response to Jesus' appeal.
- B. Luke claims that, because of Who Jesus is, when He prayed, the Holy Spirit descended from the Third Heaven in the visible form of a dove.
- 1. This was sufficiently described that we do know what happened visually: an extremely unusual "appearance" took place -- out of the Third Heaven descended a "bird".
- 2. This "bird" came down upon Jesus and rested upon Him to make something very clear: Jesus is the One Who was promised (Note John 1:33) to a person who had "recognized His Savior while both were in the womb" (Luke 1:41).
- a. The "promise" was twofold: He will immerse the repentant in His Spirit; and He will immerse the impenitent in Fire.
- b. The focus of the Spirit's descent is hopeful -- there is no "Fire" here.
- 3. This "bird" came down in this particular "form" because of a very long history in the psyche of man regarding the "dove".
- a. The pronounced introduction of the Bible, given in Genesis 8, is that the "dove" was the "announcement" that "the wrath has 'abated' and Life can now proceed."
- b. The most phenomenal focus in the Bible upon the dove is given in the Book of the Dove (better known to us as Jonah, which means "dove").
- 1) What is the message of Jonah?
- a) That the "religious hypocrites" hate God's willingness to "forgive" others (especially those others who have been in their way).
- b) That God really is willing to forgive when repentance is real.
- 2) How does it "dove-tail" into this text?
- a) The setting is the very same: enormous, venomous, religious, hypocrisy.
- b) The message is the very same: God will forgive when repentance is real and those who think they have a special "claim" on God will be excluded as they bake under the hot sun under their worm-eaten shade.
- c. The point is not "difficult": those who are baptized into the Spirit will live in the midst of, and in spite of, the venomous culture of those who despise God.
- C. Luke claims that, because of Jesus' prayer, the Father Himself spoke in an audible voice so that there could be no mistake that Heaven and Jesus are absolutely united.
- 1. The Father said, "You are My Son".
- a. No one else has ever, in the history of the universe, had this testimony borne of them [the author of Hebrews asks, (Hebrews 1:5) "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?"].
- b. There can be no mistake: the Father is claiming that Jesus is the exact replication of His own glory.
- 2. The Father said, "You are My Beloved".
- a. The word "beloved" means "the center of My universe".
- b. There can be no mistake: Jesus is the central Person with Whom all must "connect" if they have any interest at all in being "baptized by Him".
- 3. The Father said, "I am well-pleased with You."
- a. There can be no escape from the fact that the Father here declared that everything about Jesus fills Him with joyful pleasure.
- b. Thus we cannot expect (Grace allows God to counter our expectations, but it does not allow us to define "expectations") that the Father will ever have anything at all to do with anyone who treats Jesus with "dismissive disdain" or "murderous antagonism" [that God in grace addressed Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus in order to show the greatness of His longsuffering does not deny this thesis; in fact, the "surprise" of God's mercy establishes this thesis that "we cannot expect" -- though God may well "do" -- but never without repentance].
- III. The Question of the Text.
- A. The bottom line is this: is the text telling the truth?
- B. The result is this: God has given every man a sufficient "out" if he wishes to "die" (all he has to do is dismiss the text as a Truth-bearer), and He has given every man a sufficient "foundation" if he wishes to "live" (all he has to do is embrace the text as a Truth-bearer).