Luke wrote his story of Jesus to the Gentile world. He first sent the story to an official named Theophilus (or “Friend of God”). Though today’s lesson continues a story of the Jews, Theophilus would have recognized his own people in the crowds surrounding John. Even today, there are many who search for answers to their inner turmoil; to their questions about the way the world is. John proclaimed that he was preparing the people to meet the Answer in person. Greek, Jew, American—we all need that hope and assurance.
We live in a society in which millions of people don’t know who Jesus is or that He came to save them. How do you tell the story of Jesus? Can you say, as Luke did, that you have “investigated everything carefully from the beginning” (Luke 1:3)? When you tell the story of the Gospel, is it a personal story?
In Advent we celebrate the second coming of Christ, as well as the first. Luke was willing to tell the story of Christ to his friends, even the skeptical, the unbelieving, the seeking, and the fearful. Are we? John preached the same message to all of his listeners, tax collectors, soldiers, or religious leaders. God is sending the Messiah. Salvation is at hand.
“Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance….” The repentant tax collector would not only apologize to the people he had cheated, he would stop the cheating. Repentant soldiers stopped bullying the common people. Repentance meant stopping selfish practices and beginning a caring life. Verse 18 says that this was part of the Gospel, the Good News from God.
Do we take our salvation for granted? Do we consider responding to God’s grace? Do we practice repentance by serving instead of being served? These questions require looking honestly into our hearts. What better time to do that than during Advent as we celebrate the coming of our Savior? We have a Helper in the task of examining our own hearts.
The Holy Spirit enables real repentance. As Ephesians records, we are saved for a purpose: “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” In this season of Advent, each Christian has the opportunity to take repentance seriously. How will we change in response to God’s call?
Is reading the Bible a part of your Advent season? (A message from your Iowa District West Christian Education Committee)
Second Sunday of Advent Luke 3:1-20
1. Luke, the inspired historian, includes historical contexts (vs. 1-2). Why are these details included in his Gospel account? How are they helpful?
2. Who was John the Baptist? (read Luke 1:5-25; 57-66 for his background and birth) What was his role in respect to Jesus? (vs. 16-17)
3. What question was repeatedly asked of John (vs. 10, vs. 12, vs. 14)? Summarize John’s response. For Family Reflection
4. Review vs. 3 of this chapter. Have you received a baptism of repentance? Have you received God’s forgiveness in your baptism? Review Luther’s answer (Small Catechism) to the question “What benefits does Baptism give?”
5. What else do you know about John the Baptist (clothes, lifestyle, location)? See Matthew 3 and Mark 1.
6. Look at the Advent hymns in your hymnal. Do you find any references to John the Baptist? How does John’s message speak to us today?