Going Public as the Messiah

( Background to the text for 3-18-2012)

Luke 3:1-22


Tom J. Nettles


This outline for Luke 3 plays the part of John the Baptist for Luke 4, a forerunner to the lesson for the week. It would be good for the class attendees to have some feel for the density and intensity of Luke’s projection of Jesus in conforming to his Messianic status.  I have given a smaller font to Luke 3, a larger font to Luke 4, and the outline for the lesson is in a different text-type below. I have given a separate title to Luke 4.


I                      Historical Setting 1, 2 –

A       Stein shows the complexity of fixing this date probably around 29

B        Note the contrast between the powers of the world, secular and religious, and John

II                    The Person of John:  Son of Zechariah\\ Luke 1; fulfillment of prophecy; a voice to prepare the way for the Lord

III                  The Message of John: Luke 3:3-9

A       A new method of identification – baptism

B        A new mark for the people – repentance

1         Fleshly connection with Abraham does not constitute being a child of God

2         The new covenant is now inaugurated –9

3         Fulfillment of Ezekiel 36:26, 27; 37:24-26

C        A specific task, to save sinners

IV                  Specific Instructions: 10-14

V                    Pointing to Jesus

A       His Worth

B        His Work

1         This is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit

(a)     He pours forth the Spirit – Acts 2:33 > cf. Joel 2:28, 29; Ezekiel 36:24-27

(1)     At Pentecost Jews were gathered from all nations

(2)     The Book of Acts records how the Gentiles also were made to partake of this same work of the Spirit

(b)     His sacrifice creates the reality of Life in the Spirit – Romans 8:1-4

(1)     Christ’s sacrifice enable the work of the Spirit

(2)     The Spirit gives us union with Christ, resulting in imputation of righteousness and transformation into his image

(c)     He creates the church by the Spirit – 1 Cor 12:3, 12, 13

(1)     He creates the spiritual life which is the foundation for the character of the church

(2)     He gives gifts by which the church grows into a unity in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God {“unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . . One body and One Spirit”}

2         He divides the wheat from the chaff in his judgment and redemption

(a)     He gathers his people from the nations

(b)     He judges the world in righteousness

C        His Person

1         His baptism points to his representative humanity

(a)     His baptism identifies him with the message of John the Baptist

(b)     His baptism identifies him with the people he came to save

(c)     His baptism identifies him as having a true body

2         The voice from heaven identifies him as Son of God

(a)     Not by adoption or regeneration in the way that we are sons of God

(1)     1 John 3:1, 2

(2)     Galatians 4:4-7  “God sent forth His Son . . . because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son”

(b)     Not because of the virgin birth or the resurrection - Luke 1:35 - Romans 1:3, 4

(c)     By eternal essence and relationship

(1)     “Sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” [Ro 8:3]

(2)     “In these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” Hebrews 1:2]

(3)     “This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.  Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also

(4)     “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that he might destroy the works of the Devil” [1 John 3:8]

(5)     “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” [1 John 4:9]

(6)     John 5:17-26 – Father/Son eternal relationship  (Also John 8:42; 13:3)

3      His genealogy ties him to the entire covenant relationship of God with the ethnic covenant people, the Jews and with each covenant relationship established with humanity in general. The genealogy includes David, Abraham, Noah, and Adam.           



Righteousness, Revelation, and Election


Tom J. Nettles


Luke 4

I                      The Temptations of Jesus – for the necessity of perfect human righteousness 4:1-13

A       The Holy Spirit led him into this trial of satanic assault – The Holy Spirit was moving Jesus toward this initial trial of his public ministry ever since the incarnation; He was active the whole time of Jesus’ ministry from conception through resurrection and now has been sent to glorify Christ through convicting the worl of sin righteousness and judgment. Mark Says that the Spirit drove him into the wilderness Matthew says that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil. Note these examples of the Spirit’s involvement in the Life of Jesus.

1        Conceived of the Holy spirit [1:35];

2        A mark of Jesus’ Messiahship is that he baptizes with the Holy Spirit 3:16;

3        Holy Spirit descended on him 3:22;

4        Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit 4:1;

5        When he returned from his temptations, he returned in the power of the Holy Spirit 4:14;

6        He was anointed by the Spirit in accordance with prophecy 4:18

B       Satan knows who he is [cf 34, 41] – It is at the point of his humanity that Satan must attack Jesus; He must appeal to the weakness and subordination of his humanity to foil his redemptive work.

C       The temptations -  These correspond to the appeal made to Eve [Genesis 3:6] and to the nature of the world as described by John [1 John 2:15-17]

1        Satan’s schemes

(a)    He appealed to his hunger to drive him to usurp the Father’s prerogative. Jesus was here to trust the Father for every need he had.

(b)   He appealed to his task of redemption of a fallen world; Satan indicated that he would relinquish his power over this world. The only power that he has is that of deceit and accusation. The world is under his dominion only because it is first of all under the wrath of God and groaning under his having subjected it to vanity. It certainly is subservient to Satan, but only because of the punitive corruption of will and heart placed upon it by God himself, not because Satan has any individuated power to hold the world.

(c)    He appealed to his sense of dependence on divine providence

2        Jesus’s clear perception of his purpose Led him to see the evil point in each of the temptations.

(a)    His human life depends on the will and word of God, not bread cf. John 13:13-19; He is not to be overwhelmed with providing a physical need at the very point when he is constructing the righteousness by which his people will be justified. When one perceives the transcendent satisfaction of spiritual reality, the mere eating of bread seems insipid. cf Matthew 6:25-33; John 4:31-34

(b)   The task could be accomplished only if he worshipped and served his Father and continued in His will [Hebrews 10:4-10]. Jesus did not come with the intent merely of establishing authority of ownership; that was his already. He came to create the reality of the redemption of sinners, to have a world in which his mercy operates without a surrender of justice, and a manifestation of perfect obedience prompted by unalloyed love was foundational to this purpose.

(c)    Deliverance comes in the course of following truth  [cf. 28-30] Satan quoted from Psalm 91 verses 11, 12, but conveniently ignored the context. The Psalm does not have in view a foolhardy subjection of oneself to danger without cause, but the promise of protection from enemies that seek one’s harm and that seek to thwart one’s pursuit of the cause of God.

II                    Jesus’s Claim to Messianic Status – Luke 4:16-30

A        Former witnesses: Gabriel [1:16, 17, 31-33; an Angel [2:11]; Simeon [2:30-32]; John the Baptist [3:15-17]; Now Jesus claims the Messianic prerogative

B        Emphasis on the special activity of the Spirit in Jesus ministry [1:35, 41, 67, 2:25,26; 3:16, 22; 4:1, 14]  Luke is showing that the special distinctive characteristic of the Messiah, the fullness of the Spirit, including the Spirit’s witness to Him, was on Jesus. This emphasis comes prior to Jesus pointing to this special reality as he announced that his ministry fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1, 2 - 4:18

C       He committed his ministry to the full truthfulness of the revelation that had come through the prophets and assumed the task of interpretation [16b-20a is an extended chiasmus] 16b, He stood up to read, The scroll was given to him and He unrolled the scroll [He reads the text from Isaiah 61] – He rolled the scroll back up and gave it to the attendant, and sat down.

1        He invoked Inspired literature [ note: “The book of the prophet Isaiah” from Isaiah 61]

2        He claimed that his teaching and ministry fulfilled the prophecy [21]. This he had been demonstrating. That would really have no significance unless the prophecy was given by God as a distinctive way in which the presence of the Messiah could be known.

III                  Jesus’s Knowledge of Their Rejection

A        They are impressed with his teaching – 22 - Verse 15 already has indicated that the teaching of Jesus was quite phenomenal, “being glorified by all.”

B        Though their external an immediate response is one of marvel at the gracious words he spoke, they seemed incredulous that one of their own home town could possibly have such profundity. He knew that their well-speaking was superficial and so he immediately begins to give them hard doctrine to reveal that they are covered with the spirit of entitlement, self-righteousness, and hostility to truth. He chastises them for their skeptical, probationary attitude – 23, 24

C       He shows them that sovereign mercy may just as easily be given to the Gentiles as to the Jews;

1        Elijah and the Widow – 1 Kings 17:8-24 – Obviously not a Jewish widow, but probably a Canaanite.

2        Elisha and Naaman – 2 Kings 5:1-19 – Naaman was a hated Syrian.

3        Other references to Elijah/Elisha in Luke [7:11-17; 9:52-55, 61, 62]

IV                  The Aggressive Anger of the People and Jesus’s Escape [28-30]

A        Was it because of his emphasis on the Gentiles? Jesus had used examples of distinctive mercies of God that were given to non-Jews during times when severe judgment loomed over the heads of the Jews.

B        Was it because of the history of the Jewish rejection of true prophets [cf Mt 23:29-39]? Though Jesus was conscious of this, he had only referred to it obliquely when he mentioned that a prophet’s hometown did not honor the prophet.

C       Was it because of Election, the particularity of God’s sovereignty, and that His grace went beyond the parameters of Judaism? [ Compare Paul’s argument in Romans 9:6-8, 21-24, 30-33]. Jesus did not seek to go gently by glossing over the reality of God’s electing purpose and prerogative. This was the doctrine that would reveal the people’s true spiritual state. It would show if they were submissive to divine justice or if they were unreconciled to their absolute dependence on grace. People that impugn the  fairness of God when he maintains the control of his own grace and gives it to whomever he wills have not entered into the real nature of sin.

D       Was the escape a lack of resolve on the part of the people, the disarming confidence and complete lack of fear on the part of Jesus, or a supernatural escape [cf. John 7:1, 45, 46; 10:39; John 11:53, 54; 18:6]?

V                    Jesus, leaving Nazareth and going to Capernaum, begins the palpable demonstration that he fulfills the prophecies [cf. 7:21-23]

A        Authoritative teaching –

B        Authority over the oppressive force of demons

C       Authority over all kinds of physical ailment

D       Preaching superior to all of these 42-44

VI                  Observations and Application

A        Luke shows that Jesus was certain of his Messiahship from the start [cf 2:48, 49]

B        Jesus is aware that his rejection by the Jews will lead to His death

C       Jesus has defined his messiahship in terms of gospel grace: forgiveness, redemption, opening blind spiritual eyes; “Perhaps these are the “words of Grace” of verse 22

D       Jesus does not mistake their initial reaction for true belief [cf John 2:23-25]

E        Teachers should not be afraid to show that God’s redemptive plan goes far beyond our purely national interest. God’s covenant of redemptive is not aimed at saving America per se, or Canada, per se, or England, per se or any other individual political unit but at redeeming his people out of every tongue and tribe, and people.

F        Teachers should see the truth of election in Jesus emphasis.