Luke 3:1-22 (NIV)
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. 3He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
4As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’ “
7John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
Proverbs 21:26 (CEV)
People who obey God
are always generous.
12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
Proverbs 16:8 (NASB)
Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice.
14Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
Proverbs 17:20 (NIV)
A man of perverse heart does not prosper;
he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.
15The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. 16John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
19But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
The Baptism of Jesus
21When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
The greatest moments in a Christian’s life come through prayer. When Jesus prayed, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. The Spirit came upon the disciples as they gathered to pray on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). When the disciples prayed together after Pentecost, their gathering place was shaken, and they were emboldened to proclaim the gospel throughout the city (Acts 4:31).
Prayer is not a substitute for hard work—prayer is the work! God does things in and through our lives by prayer that He does in no other way. If you will commit yourself to spend sustained time in prayer, asking for God’s kingdom on earth, God will work in your life just as He did in the lives of Jesus and His disciples.
–Henry T. Blackaby
HERE is “Wade in the Water,” an old African American spiritual. “If you don’t believe I’ve been redeemed, Just follow me down to Jordan’s stream.” The song is danced by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from their signature choreographic work, “Revelations.” Enjoy a beautiful artistic enactment of baptism!
HERE is “You Are Mine,” by David Haas — a beautiful baptismal hymn.