Archive for the ‘John the Baptist’ tag
- At Jesus’ Baptism, God sent the Holy Spirit and announced that Jesus is His Son. At Baptism, God makes us His children through the work of the Holy Spirit.
- Law: Because of God’s wrath and anger over sin, I and all people need a Savior.
- Gospel: At Jesus’ Baptism, God said that Jesus is His Son. In Baptism, God grants me faith in Jesus, my Savior, and declares me His child.
- Why is the Baptism of Jesus such an appropriate lesson for the Epiphany season?
- God’s Word does not prescribe a certain style or location for a baptismal font in a church. Yet some congregations have large, beautifully designed fonts, and some put the font in a prominent location, such as right inside the entrance to the sanctuary. Why would they do these things? How could the style or location of the font communicate what a congregation believes about Baptism?
- How does John make it clear that he is not the Christ (Messiah)? See Luke 3:15–16 and John 3:28–30. In what way are pastors like John the Baptist?
- What did John’s Baptism do for those who received it? See Luke 3:3. Jesus was born sinless and never sinned. Why would He, the sinless One, need such a Baptism? See Matthew 3:14–15. What does His Baptism mean for us? See 2 Corinthians 5:17–21.
- What do we learn from the Old Testament passage that provides the background for Luke 3:22? See Isaiah 42:1. What is the significance for us of the Spirit’s descent upon Jesus in the form of a dove? See Luke 3:16 and John 3:5. Based on the Holy Spirit’s name, how do we know what He does?
- How does Christ’s Baptism provide insight into the mission of the apostles and their successors in the Church? See Matthew 28:19–20 and Acts 2:38.
- Read Luke 3:17. What does this passage say is part of Jesus’ mission? Why is this message unpopular today? Why is it important that we continue to proclaim this aspect of Jesus’ work?
- In the early days of Christianity, some churches would not allow people to pray the Lord’s Prayer until they were baptized. This might sound strange to us, but if we read the Lord’s Prayer closely, we might understand their practice better. Compare the following parts of the Lord’s Prayer with the corresponding verses and try to find the connection between them.
“Our Father who art in heaven.”
See Galatians 3:26–27 and Luke 3:22.
“Hallowed be Thy name.”
See Matthew 28:19–20 and John 1:12–13.
“Thy kingdom come.”
See John 3:5.
“Forgive us our trespasses.”
See Acts 2:38.
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:57–80.
- Through Zechariah, God said John would give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of sins. Through His Holy Word, God speaks to give us knowledge of salvation and forgiveness through Jesus, His Son.
- Law: The world, including me, was lost in the darkness of sin and death.
- Gospel: God gives me pastors and others who preach the Good News that Jesus came to be my Savior.
- Have you ever been told that you have to learn to forgive yourself when you feel guilty about something? As a Christian, what is the problem with that statement? Read Psalm51:1–5. What might David tell us to say instead of “You have to learn to forgive yourself”?
- In the ancient world, names carried much more meaning than they do in our culture. We say in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s name is holy by saying “Hallowed be Thy name.” Last week, we learned that Jesus’ name is significant because it means “the Lord saves,” and Jesus was born to save His people from their sins. Luke 1:13 says that Gabriel instructed Zechariah to name his son John, which means “The Lord is gracious and moved to pity.” We see in Luke 1:59 that the neighbors and family of Zechariah and Elizabeth expected the boy to be named after his father. How was the name John appropriate for his mission? What is the significance of having the name of God placed upon us in Baptism? See Matthew 28:19.
- When would you hear the word covenant used today outside of biblical usage? Read Luke 1:68, 72–73. When these verses are connected, they show Zechariah saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people . . . to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham.”
God made many covenants with His people and always swore to be faithful to them. The central thought of Zechariah’s prophecy is that God remembers His covenants. The covenant referred to here is the one God made with Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 15; the oath is found in Genesis 22:15–18. All of the covenants God made with Israel were fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus. Read Jeremiah 31:31–34. What did God promise to do here? Read Luke 22:20. How does Jesus show that we live under the new covenant?
- The Old Testament prophets had many roles. They encouraged the people to rely on the Lord’s strength and not their own. They called on the people to remember God’s covenants with them. They proclaimed the Lord’s faithfulness based on the saving acts He had performed in the past. And they prophesied what the Lord would do for His people in the future.
All of these prophetic functions are included in Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1:68–79. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, who allowed Him to prophesy (Luke 1:67). What would his son, John, do as a prophet (Luke 1:76–77)? Whom would John prophesy about (Luke 1:78–79)? Who else had prophesied concerning John (Luke 3:4)? Who was the last and greatest of the prophets (Luke 4:24)?
- Psalm 51 shows us that sin is what separates us from God. “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4). The forgiveness of sins is emphasized in Luke and in the Bible in general. Luke tells us that salvation is found in the forgiveness of sins (Luke 1:77). John the Baptist identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
How would John the Baptist deliver forgiveness to people (Luke 3:3)?
What does Jesus identify as the essential message of the Christian Church (Luke 24:47)? What is the basis for that message (Luke 24:46)? Why is this message so important?
- A word closely related to the forgiveness of sins is righteousness. Zechariah says in Luke 1:74–75 that the Lord granted His people to “serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” Read Romans 4:1–9 and Luke 18:9–14.
What does the word justify mean? What does it mean that God “justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5)? In Luke 1:6 and 2:25, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Simeon are described as “righteous.” Why are they called righteous? How are people justified?
- People are insultingly called “holier than thou” when they flaunt their piety and good works before others and condemn behaviors they consider unholy. The temperance movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a holiness movement intended to make the production and use of alcohol illegal. Holiness churches require their members to abstain from things they consider unholy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
What understanding of the word holy do we get based on the examples above? Read Luke 1:49, 70, 72, 75; 3:16. What do we learn about holiness from these passages? List as many things as you can that go on in Lutheran churches and that we call holy. What makes these things holy?
- What is mercy? See Luke 1:50, 54, 58, 72, 77–78; 6:36; 10:37. What do we learn about God’s mercy from these verses? What do we learn about the mercy we are to show to others?
- What is your idea of perfect peace? Luke 1:79 says that Jesus will “guide our feet into the way of peace.” In 2:14, we are told that Jesus’ birth has brought “on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” Read Luke 2:29–30. How was peace brought to Simeon? Read Luke 24:36–39. How does Jesus show His disciples true peace?
- In Luke 1:57–66, we see the neighbors and relatives of Zechariah and Elizabeth playing an important role in the circumcision and naming of John. Close relationships with extended families and tight connections with the community were the norm at this time. Many people never traveled more than a couple days’ journey from where they grew up. This is hard for us to understand.
While we can be thankful for the blessings of increased mobility in our times, we also should recognize the consequences, such as the disconnection of most of our lives from extended family and neighbors. Many people feel isolated and that their lives are fragmented and chaotic with no solid foundations anywhere. Since Christian congregations are made up of sons and daughters of God who are brothers and sisters in Christ, what responsibilities and opportunities are presented to the Church by our cultural climate?
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:5–25.
- God promised to send John to prepare sinners to receive the Savior. God calls us to repent through His Word and declares us righteous because of Jesus.
- Law: I sin when I doubt God’s Word and promises.
- Gospel: Because of Jesus, God forgives my doubts. The Holy Spirit works through God’s Word and Sacraments to give me faith to believe.
- Today we begin the season of Advent. The word advent means “a coming to” or “an arrival.” Today’s lesson tells of the promise that John the Baptist would come to prepare the way for Jesus’ own coming. In Advent, we focus on the advents (plural) of Jesus. Give three examples of advents of Jesus, and discuss how each one is important to our lives as Christians.
- Today’s lesson is set in and around the temple in Jerusalem. Though the inner workings of the temple, and the tabernacle before it, are unfamiliar to most of us, basic knowledge of them helps us understand many events and ideas in the New Testament. God’s presence dwelt in the temple, and priests offered sacrifices to Him there, as He had instructed them to do.
One of the rites of the temple was the burning of incense. Exodus 30:1–10 describes the institution of this rite. Zechariah was a priest, and he had been chosen to serve at the altar of incense, which was just outside the Most Holy Place (Luke 1:8–9). This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a high honor. While the priest offered incense, believers would offer prayers at the temple (Luke 1:10). What does incense symbolize? See Psalm 141:1–2. Why might God have instituted the use of incense for Old Testament worship?
- God spoke to Zechariah through the angel Gabriel, the messenger whom He had sent. Angels were often sent by God to be His messengers. Whom did Jesus later send out into the world as His messengers to speak on His behalf? Who are Jesus’ messengers to the world today? How can we tell whether someone is a true or false messenger of God?
- Luke 1:6 says that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” Why can this verse not mean that Zechariah and Elizabeth were saved by perfect obedience to the commandments? See Romans 3:23–24. What does it mean that they were “righteous before God”? What does it mean that they were “walking blamelessly” in God’s commandments and statutes?
- What Old Testament couple is brought to mind by the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth? See Genesis 17:15–19. What similarities do you see between the stories? Why is it important to read that the saints in the Bible sometimes fell into unbelief?
- Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament and was written around 430 BC. Read Malachi 4:5–6 and Luke 1:16–17. What key phrases in these verses indicate that Malachi’s prophecy was fulfilled in the person of John? What event does Malachi say will happen after Elijah comes?
- Read Luke 3:3. What was John’s basic message? According to Luke 1:16, what would be one outcome of John’s preaching? If Luke 1:16 refers to the repentance of some of the Jews, to whom might Luke 1:17 be referring?
- Luke 1:15 says that John “must not drink wine or strong drink.” This is one of the requirements for someone who takes a Nazirite vow. Read Numbers 6:1–3. What is the purpose of the Nazirite vow? What kind of tone does this set for John’s ministry? According to Psalm 104:15, what does wine symbolize? In Luke 7:33–34, Jesus contrasts His own ministry with John’s, saying that John drinks no wine but that He does. What could this difference in their ministries indicate?
- God made Zechariah mute because he did not believe the promise given through Gabriel. Zechariah would have known the story of Abraham and Sarah, as well as other similar stories of God opening closed wombs. He should have known better than to doubt God. Instead, he asked for a sign to prove that the prophecy would come true. God muted Zechariah in order to chastise him for his unbelief but also, ironically, to provide the sign for which he had asked. When misfortunes occur in our lives, should we interpret them as God’s punishments? Why or why not? What are the only signs of God’s love for which we should look? Read Mark 16:16 and Romans 8:28. What are some examples of signs that people today seek in order to confirm that God loves them?
- Luke 1:15 says that John would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” Read Luke 1:39–45. Who alone can give faith? What could these passages tell us about the possibility of unborn babies having faith? Can we be certain that God gives faith to infants who are baptized? What impression do these passages give to us concerning the value Elizabeth and Mary placed on their unborn babies?
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:57–80.
- Zechariah spoke God’s Word announcing that John would give people knowledge of salvation in the forgiveness of sins. God speaks through His Holy Word to give me knowledge of salvation and forgiveness through Jesus, His Son.
- Law: God wants me to listen and obey Him, following His ways.
- Gospel: God looks at me through the obedience of Christ and is pleased.
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:5–25.
- God in His mercy promised to send John to prepare sinful people for the coming of the Lord.
- Law: God in His Word calls us to repentance, declaring us righteous because of Jesus. Law/Gospel Points Zechariah and Elizabeth were ordinary people, sinful just as I am. I need to repent and return to the Lord.
- Gospel: I, like them, stand righteous before God in spite of my sin, being justified by Christ, the Righteous One. God forgives me for Jesus’ sake, drawing me to Him through His Word and Sacraments.
The text for this lesson is John 1:43–51.
- In Jesus, access to heaven is given to all who believe.
- Law: You get the god you believe in. If you believe “God” to be a mean-spirited, unforgiving, damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t deity, then your belief in that false god attaches you to him. Again, if you believe “God” to be an everybody-gets-to-heaven, anything goes, laid-back Lord, then your belief in that false god attaches you to him. Remember, you get the “God” you believe in. But if the deity in whom you believe is false, then, alas, he is nothing more than one of the devil’s myriad disguises. And what you get is hell.
- Gospel: Jesus is who Jesus is. He is not whomever we twist, wrench, or otherwise manipulate Him into being. He defies our expectations, knowing all, loving all, dying for all. Something good did come down from Nazareth. That good is the Savior, who is the true Jacob’s ladder, for upon Him the angels come down to escort us upward to our heavenly home.
The text for this lesson is Mark 1:1–13.
- Jesus takes on our sin at His Baptism, facing our temptations that we, in turn, might be baptized into His goodness, His holiness, and His purity. In exchange for our sewer of sin, He gives us the fountain of life.
- Law: Repentance is not an emotion but a motion, a constant moving away from sin and into Christ, from death to life. To repent is not to “feel bad” but to confess that one is “bad”—a lawbreaker, one who fears, loves, and trusts things above God. It is to see in the lifeless wilderness around John an emblem of one’s soul, divorced from faith.
- Gospel: Jesus is baptized for us. All our transgressions cascade into Him. He also baptizes the water, as it were. He puts Himself into the water so the water, joined to Him, might join us to Him in Baptism. Once baptized, He takes down the devil for us by fearing, loving, and trusting His father above all things.