Lukeby Mike Raiter
A bride must look beautiful when she meets the groom on her wedding day. Israel is like the bride and John is getting her ready to meet her Messiah. He prepares her outwardly: he washes her, removes her dirty garments, and dresses her in proper clothes.
John’s preaching has led the people to conclude wrongly that he must be the Messiah (v. 15). John corrects them and identifies two important things about the coming One. First, He is immeasurably greater than John is. In fact, John says that he is not worthy even to untie the straps of Jesus’ sandals (v. 16). In Judea, teachers were held in the highest regard by their followers. As the saying went, a student must do whatever his teacher commands, except untie his sandals (a task reserved for slaves). However, says John, even that most demeaning of jobs would be too exalted for him.
Second, Jesus will baptise with the Spirit and fire, or, in other words, with the purifying, refining Spirit (v. 16). We saw yesterday that John called people to be generous and just. But how do you do that? What makes the selfish become selfless? An inner renewal and cleansing is required. John’s baptism cleansed the outside, but only Jesus’ fiery baptism will cleanse the heart.
Luke now records Jesus’ baptism, which really is the formal beginning of His ministry (vv. 21–23). As Jesus is praying, He receives the authority and power for His ministry, and God gives Him a visible illustration of what this ministry will be like. The Spirit comes to Jesus in the form of a dove. It does not appear in the form of an eagle or a hawk, but in the shape of a bird that is a symbol of innocence, purity, weakness, poverty, and gentleness.
Finally, God speaks (v. 22). All people are God’s offspring, but only Jesus is the eternal, beloved Son of God. There have been many great and powerful leaders throughout history, but they all have one thing in common: all are unworthy to untie the sandals of Jesus. All of us need Jesus’ baptism of the Spirit and fire, and all of us must follow and worship the only Beloved Son.
We have in this passage two pictures of the Holy Spirit. The first is “fire” (v. 16). What does this tell us about the Spirit’s ministry?
The Spirit then comes to Jesus in the appearance of a dove (v. 22). What does that tell us about the character of the Holy Spirit? What does it tell us about the character of a Spirit-filled Christian?