Preparation for Service
Weekly Word: Lesson 3
Luke: Message of Hope
THE BIRTH OF HOPE (Part II):
What is needed to prepare a person for fruitful service? In looking into Jesus’ life, we see how He was prepared. In addition, because Jesus was initiating a new way of approaching God through faith, before Jesus began His ministry the people had to be prepared to receive it. Let’s see what we can take for ourselves from His model.
I. DAYS ONE and TWO: Jesus’ childhood (Luke 2:39-52)
A. Matthew tells us that after the visit of the Wise Men, Jesus’ family escaped to Egypt for some unspecified period of time (Matthew 2:13-15). Luke picks up the story when the family returned to Nazareth in Galilee. How does Luke 2:40 describe Jesus at this time?
- Some people like to think that Jesus’ boyhood was filled with sweet little miracles, such as healing birds’ broken wings, etc. How do Matthew 13:54 and Luke 4:22-23 refute that idea? Jesus’ boyhood looked liked that of other boys. (His first miracle was recorded in John 2:11 at the beginning of His public ministry.)
- What do Luke 2:39, 41-42 reveal about the model Jesus’ parents set regarding worshiping God and obeying God’s Law?
B. Luke does describe one childhood incident for us – that of Jesus at the temple at age 12. Read verses 41-50. Jesus was old enough that when the caravan left Jerusalem for home he could have traveled either in the company of the women and children, or that of the men. Imagine Mary and Joseph’s panic when they couldn’t find him that night! The next day they traveled back to Jerusalem, and the third day they found him.
- Jesus was not teaching in the temple. What was He doing and why were people amazed?
- How did Jesus’ response in verse 49 indicate that although at this time He was not omniscient, He understood who He was?
- In spite of who Jesus was, how did He respond to Joseph and Mary in verse 51? What does that say to you about the importance of children being taught to obey their parents? Read Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:1-3. Why is this so important?
- What is the parents’ role? (See Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4) If you are a parent, how faithfully are you fulfilling this part of your role?
- How does Philippians 2:6-8 help explain Jesus’ humble, normal childhood? We can assume Jesus obeyed His parents, did chores, shared with His siblings, and learned to work in the carpenter shop with Joseph. In fact, Jesus as the oldest son probably later supported the family through this business after the death of Joseph and before He began His public ministry. In many ways, His life was ordinary – much like yours and mine.
C. In what ways did Jesus grow? (verse 52) How does this model the importance of being well-balanced in one’s growth and lifestyle?
- Are you well-balanced in the physical, mental, social and spiritual parts of your life? Are you taking care of your body with appropriate diet, exercise, sleep, and work? Are you expanding your mind with good literature, stimulating teaching and conversation? Do you enjoy good relations and mutual caring with your neighbors and co-workers? Is your time with God through Scripture and prayer vibrant and does it impact all the rest of your life?
- If you are a parent, what about your children? Are you neglecting to train them in any of these four areas? What needs to change for you or them to be well-balanced people like Jesus was?
- Record in your journal any changes you need to make, along with a practical plan for doing so. Determine how to hold yourself accountable for those changes.
II. DAY THREE: John’s message (Luke 3:1-20)
A. The coming of Jesus the Messiah was a radical change for people in their understanding of how to relate to God. God had always required faith, but now the true object of their faith was here. God had been progressively preparing people over the centuries with the Mosaic Law, prophecy and the symbolism of the sacrificial system, but now that Jesus was here it was time for more specific preparation.
- Luke 3:1-2 gives the historical framework for John the Baptist’s ministry. The reigns of the Roman leaders mentioned overlapped beginning in AD 26. Annas had been deposed as high priest in 15 AD but continued to be considered the rightful high priest by the Jews during the time of his son-in-law Caiaphas. It is thought that John the Baptist’s ministry was probably in 28-29 AD, lasted for one year, and was followed by two years in prison before he was martyred.
- John came in the spirit and power of Elijah. It is interesting that he even dressed like Elijah, and ministered in one of the areas where Elijah had lived (II Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:1-6).
- From Luke 3:3-6, what was John’s message? What hope did it offer? Who would see God’s salvation?
B. Repentance can be functionally defined as a change of mind which results in a change in behavior.
Read verses 7-14. What different types of people were coming to hear John? Were all of them sincere in their professions of faith? What makes you think some were relying their religious heritage or on baptism without repentance to save them?
- John’s baptism didn’t “save” anyone, but it was an outward picture of an inner change of heart. People needed to recognize their sin before they recognized their need for God’s salvation through the Messiah, Jesus. The Jews were used to seeing Gentile proselytes be baptizedi, but the thought that they, too, needed to turn from sin and be baptized was a foreign concept.
- In verse 8 we see the principle that true repentance produces a change in our lives. We are no longer self-centered, but God-centered. John doesn’t tell people to leave their secular jobs. What does he say instead?
- James 2:14-22 confirms that there is a difference between merely saying one has faith and being a truly repentant person whose faith is demonstrated by one’s actions. List at least three ways repentant faith should make your life look differently. For example, if you discovered you had received too much change at the store you would…
- To personalize this, would your neighbors say you had true repentant faith based on the way they see you behave?
C. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the first voice to be heard for 400 years, so people wondered if he might in fact be the Messiah (Jewish term) or Christ (Greek term). John responded with a prophecy which had both a near and a distant component.
- From verses 15-16, how did John honestly answer the people’s question?
- In Isaiah 42:8, God warns that He will not give His glory to another. How did John carefully and humbly give all glory to God in verse 16? John remembered that he was just “a voice.” (See also John 1:20-23; 3:26-30) How are you and I also “a voice?”
- John had the privilege of introducing Jesus at His baptism. (See John 1:29-34.) The reference to Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit in verses 16-17 may refer to Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and the baptism with fire may refer to Jesus’ second coming as judge (Matthew 13:30 and Revelation 20:11-15).
III. DAY FOUR: Jesus’ credentials (Luke 3:21-38)
A. Jesus’ baptism is described briefly in verses 21-22. If you want a fuller account, read the parallel passages: Matthew 3:13-17 and Mark 1:9-11, and John’s commentary in John 1:29-34.
- What was Jesus doing when heaven opened and God spoke?
- What evidence do you see here for the doctrine of the Trinity?
- A dove often symbolizes peace. Why do you think the Holy Spirit descended in this visible way?
- What do God the Father’s words imply about Jesus’ life up to this point?
B. Jesus’ genealogy in verses 23-38 is interesting to compare to that in Matthew 1:1-17.
- Scholars generally believe that Matthew records Jesus’ right to the throne of David and His fulfillment of prophetic requirements through His legal father, Joseph. Luke, on the other hand records His biological descent through Mary (Heli being the father-in-law of Joseph).
- Notice that Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, begins by identifying Jesus as the son of David, the son of Abraham.
- Luke, writing to Gentiles, begins with Jesus and works backwards to Adam, the “son” of God. Jesus is not only the one prophesied to be “king of the Jews,” but He is the one promised to Adam who would solve the sin problem of all mankind. (Genesis 3:15) This also reminds us that Jesus, the son of man, is also truly the Son of God.
IV. DAY FIVE: Jesus’ tests ( Luke 4:1-13)
A. It is to be expected that when one has made a commitment to God, that commitment will be tested. That is particularly true when one has been commissioned for service. Perhaps the purpose is not only to show us our areas of weakness and our need to rely on God rather than ourselves, but also to strengthen us in ways that will prepare us to be more effective in service. In addition, it keeps us humble, and allows us to be a gentle, credible help to others.
- Jesus, the sinless one, didn’t need to be tested to expose weakness but to reveal His sinless character and to prove His worthiness as our Lord. What does Hebrews 2:10, 14-18 say about the purpose and results of Jesus’ testing? What hope does this give you? (See also Hebrews 4:14-16.)
- I am also encouraged that Jesus did not face temptation in some supernatural way which guaranteed His success. He faced it in the same way you and I do with the same resources you and I have. From Luke 4:1 and 4, what are those resources?
B. Matthew gave the temptations of Jesus in chronological order.ii Luke changes the order for theological reasons.
1. Read Luke 4:1-4.
a. There is nothing wrong with eating food to nourish our bodies. How might Jesus’ answer indicate that all areas of our lives, physical as well as spiritual, are to be surrendered to God’s control? How does I Corinthians 10:31 help you?
b. How did Jesus change a temptation to doubt God’s love and care for Him into a choice to trust God’s love and obey His will?
c. Notice that Jesus didn’t merely recite Scripture as if they were “magic words,” but lived out the principles they taught.
2. Read Luke 4:5-8
a. God had already promised the kingdoms of the world to Jesus (Psalm 2). Here Jesus is tempted to choose a good thing rather than the right thing: to receive a desired end without going through the suffering of the cross which God ordained as the right way.
b. The price was unacceptable! How did Jesus answer?
c. What consequence would there have been for you and me if He had yielded to this temptation? (See Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:14, 28.)
3. Read Luke 4:9-12
a. When we are in God’s will, we can expect God’s protection and care. This temptation was to step out of God’s will and demand that He prove Himself by still giving that protection. It was a temptation to live by sight not faith, and to bring glory to Himself rather than to God in the process.
b. Satan took Scripture out of context in confronting Jesus. How important it is to balance scripture with scripture, in context, to understand what God’s will truly is!
c. From verse 13, did being victorious against these temptations mean that there would be no further tests?
C. You and I face temptations also. What circumstances cause you to doubt God’s love for you? What challenges tempt you to compromise in order to avoid suffering? When have you chosen to sin because it meets a short term “need”, rationalizing that “God will forgive me”?
- How might you prepare to follow Jesus’ model against the next time you are tempted?
- If you haven’t done so before, memorize I Corinthians 10:13. How does this verse help you?
In the Old Testament, people sometimes placed “memorial stones” where God had met or tested them in a specific way. Think back over your life. Record in your journal the people, circumstances and events which God has used to prepare you for the place you are today (your “memorial stones”). God is economical. He doesn’t waste anything, good or bad. How does this give you hope personally? Thank Him for what He has given and allowed, and give it all back to Him to use for His service and His glory as He chooses.
© 2013 Thrive.
About the author
Raised in a Christian family, Pat Laube learned early that one must trust in Jesus alone to have a personal relationship with God. Pat was educated in the field of nursing, specializing in coronary care. Subsequently, Pat began to be impressed by the power God's Word had to change lives and became involved in various Bible studies, including Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). Serving for a number of years in BSF as a Substitute Teaching Leader, Pat gained a deep love for communicating God's Word to women. Pat and her husband, Dave are actively involved in their church in the areas of music and missions. Dave has served on a mission board for a number of years, and together they have attended mission conferences in Europe, as well as being long-time supporters of ThriveMinistries. They have a single adult daughter who has served short term in Africa, and a married daughter, son-in-law and “grand-dog.” Pat and Dave live in Golden, Colorado.View all articles by: Pat Laube
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