Right click and save the pdf: Description of the Messiah part 1
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Due to audio difficulties, this study was re-recorded at a later date.
Description of the Messiah
For the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at the appearance of John on
the scene in the wilderness around Judea. He
came preaching two things that we are told about:
He came preaching the Kingdom of the Heavens and he came preaching a
baptism of repentance.
John didn’t spend a lot of
time preaching the common salvation, as that was old news to the Jews.
Even the teaching of the Kingdom was old news.
But, the teaching of “repent!” became a stumbling block to many.
They thought that as children of Abraham, they had automatic entrance
into the Kingdom. But, Abraham had
an earthly seed and a heavenly seed, and many people did
not realize just how far they had drifted from God’s law.
They had taken to following man’s law, and as such, they needed to
change or repent; they needed to reform the way they lived and they needed to
We looked at a parable in
Matthew 21 in which a householder planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, to
keep out those who don’t belong, he digged a winepress to prepare the fruits
thereof (wine is that which cheers the heart of God and man; Judges 9:13), he
built a tower for those who would operate it, and he leased it out.
(You will find that Uzziah did that back in 2 Chronicles, for he loved
Well, what happened in this
parable? When the time of the fruit
drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the
fruits thereof, and the husbandmen took the servants, and they beat one, killed
one, and stoned another. He sent
more servants, and the same thing happened.
Finally, he sent his son, saying, “Surely, they will reverence him”.
No. Matthew 21:38 says,
“But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the
heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.”
They wanted to take it by force. They
had no legitimate claim to the vineyard. Then,
verse 39 tells us, “And they caught him, and cast him
out of the vineyard, and slew him.”
Is anyone going to get an
inheritance that way? In Matthew
21:43, in which he’s talking to wicked men, Jesus says, “The kingdom of God
shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits
John came preaching the Kingdom,
and he came teaching a baptism of repentance.
Despite the fact that this was a stumbling block to many of the Jewish
leaders, what happened?
“And they were baptized.” This
is in the imperfect tense, which simply shows the repetition of the act of
baptism, as the crowds from Judea and the surrounding country kept going out to
him. “And they went out”, in
verse 5, is also in the imperfect, which means this was a regular stream of
folks going out to get baptized. They
kept coming and coming, and they got baptized.
They didn’t hide it behind closed doors.
This baptism symbolized their being bound to a new life; it did not cause
it, as some people teach.
But, they were baptized in the
Jordan River by John, and what were they doing? They were confessing their sins.
The words imply that confession is connected with baptism.
They were baptized while in the act of confessing.
If you will notice, this is an open, public baptism, and an open, public
confession, not a private confession made to John.
In [Acts 19], there is an event in which some charlatans
were trying to exorcise some evil spirits in the name of Jesus.
But, they were doing this falsely, and in [verse 15], we read.
The evil spirit leaped on them, prevailed against them, and these
charlatans fled out of the house naked and wounded.
Then, in [verse 17], we read. But,
here is what I want you to see: [Acts
19:18]. It was public. They showed their deeds.
[Luke 3] This
confession was connected with baptism. They were baptized while in the act of confessing.
This was an open and public confession, not a private one.
James 5:16 says, “Confess your
faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The
effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
But, it was also an individual confession, and possibly even a specific
one. Not necessarily what we would
consider a terrible crime, either.
[Luke 3:10-11] This
is the inner and less necessary inner garment.
It’s more like a shirt. Not
the more valuable outer garment. The
outer garment served as a covering for the night, and as such, could not even be
used as a pledge overnight. If
someone gave you their outer garment as a pledge, you were instructed to return
it to him before the sun goes down, whether or not the pledge was fulfilled.
[Luke 3:12-13] The
word for “publican” is a compound Greek word from “tax” and “to
buy”. They were collectors of
Roman taxes. The Romans hired out
the direct taxes and duties to others, on their payment of a certain sum in
publicum, into the public treasury, from which they were called
“publicans”. Sometimes, this
sum was too much for any one individual to pay, so a company paid it.
These people were often the dregs of society, and they were
so notorious for their extortions that they were habitually included in the same
category with harlots and sinners. They
often extorted more than their legal and fair share, and thereby gained great
wealth. But, if a Jew had trouble
persuading himself that it was right to even pay taxes,
think about how much more heinous it must have been in their eyes to become the
questionably honest instrument for collecting taxes.
If a publican was hated, think about how much greater the disgust aimed
against a publican who was also a Jew. The
word “publican” was even used as a term of reproach by Jesus in Matthew
18:17. Everyone despised them.
There are even Gentile sources that state that all publicans are robbers.
[Luke 3:13] It
doesn’t say, “Quit collecting taxes”.
It simply says, “Exact no more than that which is due you.
Take what you’re supposed to, but don’t take any more.
Don’t use dishonest means to gain more than you’re fair share.
[Luke 3:14] He
doesn’t say, “Throw down your spear and quit the army”.
He gives them instruction on how they should behave as soldiers.
There were many soldiers stationed in the area, and many of them helped
the publicans, and as such stood to gain by immoral means.
Even other soldiers, other than the ones helping publicans, often stood
to gain by extortion through several means.
They ask him, “What shall we do?”
The first part of his response is, “Do violence to no man”.
This is a common expression in ancient Greek, and in the LXX, but is
found only here in the NT. The
literal meaning of the word is to shake thoroughly, and in so doing, to
thoroughly terrify. It came to mean
to extort money or property by intimidating.
It was a process of blackmail to which Socrates referred.
This act was a constant temptation to soldiers, not only to try to get
some loot from those being intimidated, but if they didn’t pay up, the
soldiers would turn them in for rewards offered for arresting those committing
certain crimes. But, might does not
make right in the eyes of God.
This ties in with the second instruction:
“Neither accuse any falsely.” The
soldiers would often intimidate someone, using physical force, for monetary
gain, but people would stand to gain by informing on those committing certain
crimes. Accusing someone falsely
could gain a nice little reward, or could exact revenge upon an enemy.
He doesn’t tell the soldiers to quit soldiering, but he
does tell them quit intimidating and quit falsely accusing people.
But, he also told them something else:
“And be content with your wages.”
Discontent with wages was a primary complaint of many of the mercenary
soldiers. The word for “wages”,
“opsOnion”, was originally anything cooked and bought.
From “opson”, which means “cooked food”, and “Oneomai”, which
means “to buy”. It was originally anything eaten with bread, such as broiled
fish, and it came to mean whatever is bought to be eaten with bread, and then it
came to mean a soldier’s pay or allowance.
This word is used in only four places in the NT.
[Romans 6] 1 Corinthians 9:7
uses this word. It says, “Who
goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?”
That word “charges” is the same word.
In other words, “Who goes to war supplying his own rations or wages”.
Who provides our rations or our wages?
God. In 2 Corinthians 11:8,
Paul is speaking and he says, “I
robbed other churches, taking wages [of them], to do you service.”
want you to see is right here in [Romans 6:23]. Rations; pay; wages; food.
Death (thanatos) is the diet of sin.
It’s the rations of sin. Is
that what you want?
3] They came, and were baptized by
John in the Jordan River, and they were publicly confessing their sins.
I don’t know that they were confessing every little detail to everyone,
but they were certainly admitting to being sinners.
This was an open, public testimony given while being baptized.
“Ye offspring of vipers.” It
doesn’t get any meaner than that. (As
a side note, I want to point out that Jesus used this expression more than once.
Anyone who says that Jesus was a “nice guy”, doesn’t really know
much about Jesus.)
Ancients thought that some kinds
of vipers ate their way out of their mothers.
Killing one’s mother was the most hideous crime conceivable in some
This term expresses the deadly
influence of both the Pharisees and Sadducees alike upon the community.
Both were antagonistic, and the religious principles and spirit of both
groups are poisoning the nation.
By being offspring of vipers, it
would seem that their ancestors were vipers, and they are simply like them; full
of hypocrisy and malice. The viper
is very beautiful, but is full of poison; it looks innocent, but its teeth
cannot be seen, and it is a dangerous and deadly creature.
These men are like that. They
make pretences to holiness, but they are full of deadly poison:
Hypocrisy, malice, and error.
Would you want to be greeted
like this? “Why, hey there, you
old child of a viper, you!” What
do you think these men who wanted to be seen as being very religious thought
about it? They boasted of their
being the seed of Abraham, and they put a lot of stock in that fact; that’s
what they thought their salvation rested upon.
They thought they were children of Abraham, and who were they being told
they are the offspring of?
Think of the proverb that says,
“Like father, like son”. They’re
being told they’re the offspring of vipers.
They’re the seed of the serpent. They’re
children of the devil. “Oh ye
generation or offspring of vipers!”
Who were these men about whom
this was being said? Pharisees and
Sadducees, right? These two rival
parties do not often have anything in common, and John saw them coming for
baptism. Well, who are they?
Alford speaks of “the
Pharisees representing hypocritical superstition; the Sadducees carnal
unbelief.” In order to properly
understand the theological atmosphere of Palestine during this time, you have to
have an adequate knowledge of both Pharisees and Sadducees.
The word “Pharisee” is from
a Hebrew word meaning “separate”. After
the ministry of the prophets ceased, godly men arose who sought to keep alive
reverence for the law amongst the descendents of the Jews who returned from
their captivity in Babylon. This
movement degenerated into the Pharisaism during the time we are studying.
This Pharisaism was a strict adherence to the letter of the law, but the
law was overlaid with traditional interpretations, which was held as equal
authority with the law itself. In
other words, they put their law on a par with God’s law.
The Pharisees were strictly a sect, and each member took an obligation to
remain true to the principles of Pharisaism.
(I suppose that some, such as Nicodemus could remain true to the original
principles of Pharisaism, while denying what they became.)
Pharisees were correct, moral, zealous, self-denying, and self-righteous.
They also had not sense of sin and need.
They had good intentions, at least as their foundation, but how had it
devolved? They became
self-important, and became a burden to the people, but they were very powerful. (Scofield)
Sadducees, on the other hand,
were not strictly a sect, but they were a group amongst the Jews who denied the
existence of angels or other spirits, they denied all miracles, and most
especially denied resurrection. They
were the “rationalists” of that day and age, but were strongly entrenched in
the Sanhedrin and priesthood. The
Sadducees are not identified with any affirmative doctrine, but they simply
denied the supernatural. They
“rationalized” everything. I’m
sure you’ve encountered people like that that.
“Oh, that miracle was some sort of trick”, or “he wasn’t really
dead”. That sort of thing.
There’s also a third major
sect, called the Essenes, but they basically lived a life of the sort that Jesus
espoused, but being hermits, probably would not have encountered Jesus.
At least there is no mention of them anywhere in the NT.
Both groups followed the crowds
to the Jordan. They wanted to jump
on the bandwagon. They saw many
people being looked upon, and they said, “Hey!
We want some of that action!” Both
groups wanted to be seen as being righteous in the eyes of men; they wanted to
be esteemed by people. But, even
though John had welcomed the multitudes, he exposed their hypocrisy right in the
presence of the huge crowds.
“Who hath warned you to flee
from the wrath to come?” Why are
you here? The “wrath to come”
cannot mean spending the rest of eternity in the lake of fire; baptism can’t
save you from that. But, true
repentance, of which baptism is a symbol, could save them from some future
calamity and destruction.
“Show me some proof before I baptize you.”
John wanted more than lip service. God
wants more than lip service. He
wants repentance. A tree is known
by its fruits, and true repentance is known by the works.
[Matthew 3:9] John
touched the tender spot, which was their pride. They felt that the “merits of the fathers,” especially of
Abraham, were enough for all Israelites. He
probably pointed at the pebbles all over the place and said, “God is able of
these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”
“Don’t flatter yourselves and think that God needs you in order to
make good His promise of a seed to Abraham; for I’m telling you that, though
you were all to perish, God is as able to raise up a seed to Abraham out of
those stones.” Isaiah 51:1 says,
“Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD:
look unto the rock whence ye are hewn,
and to the hole of the pit whence ye are
digged.” God doesn’t need you;
you need God.
3:10] Here, where it says, “The
axe is laid unto the root”, the idea is not that it has already been used, but
that it lies at the root of the trees. It’s
there, and it’s ready for business. This
tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down; it’s cut off!
And who benefits from this? The
Gentiles. We do. Matthew
21:43 says, “…The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a
nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”
3:11-12] We don’t have time to
really delve into this right now, but who is this talking about?
This is talking about the Messiah. The
Jewish leaders of the day were looking for a Messiah, but were they looking for
the correct one? Will he one day be
what they were looking for? Will it
make a difference then?
did the Messiah come to do? He came
to save. Did he come to save
everyone or just the Jews? (2
Corinthians 5:15; he died for all.) Did
he come to save partially or completely? (1
Thessalonians 5:23) (Gentiles could
always be saved; Isaiah 56:6-8)
He also came to give us life. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” This is the life that we can look forward to. What does that mean? We will pick up here next week.