John the Baptist prepares people to meet Jesus
1 This report is about John, the son of Zechariah. It happened when Tiberius Caesar was ruling the Roman world. He had ruled for about 15 years. Pontius Pilate was ruling the country called Judea. And Herod was ruling the land called Galilee. Herod's brother Philip was ruling the countries called Iturea and Trachonitis. Lysanias was ruling Abilene. 2 At this time, the leaders of the priests were Annas and Caiaphas. John was living in the wilderness. While he was there, God spoke to him.
3:2Tiberius Caesar was the second man to rule the whole Roman world. He began to rule in 11 AD after Caesar Augustus died. See Luke 2:1. Luke wants us to know when John the Baptist was teaching. So he tells us all these things about the rulers. This report about John began in 25-26 AD.
3:2Galilee, Iturea, Traconitis and Abilene were the names of some of the different parts of Palestine (or Israel).
3 John went to many places near the river Jordan and spoke a message from God. ‘You have done many wrong things,’ he taught everybody. ‘You must turn away from them and change how you live. Then God will forgive you and I will baptise you.’
3:3Baptism is for a person that turns away from doing wrong things. He then turns to God. God promises to forgive the person that now wants to obey him.
3:3Some people think that John poured water over people to baptise them. Other people think that they went right under the water.
4 The prophet Isaiah wrote this message from God in his book:
‘Somebody's voice is shouting in the wilderness,
“The Lord will come soon, so prepare a way for him to follow.
Make the paths straight for him.
5 Fill in every valley and make every mountain and hill flat.
Take away every curve so that the road is straight.
Take away all the rocks so that the road is flat.
6 Then everyone will see how God can save them.” ’
3:6John is using a picture to show people how to prepare themselves for the Lord to come. At that time, people mended the roads before a ruler arrived. To be ready for Jesus, they should stop doing wrong things. And they should start to do what is right.
7 Crowds of people were going out into the wilderness. They wanted John to baptise them. He told them, ‘You are like dangerous snakes! God is angry. You are trying to run away from him. But he will soon punish people like you. 8 You have to show that you are sorry. Change how you live. Stop doing things that God does not like. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We are in the family of Abraham. God will surely not punish us.” Listen! God can take these stones and make children for Abraham out of them! 9 You are like trees that have bad fruit. God has an axe ready to use. He will cut down every tree that does not make good fruit. He will throw those trees into the fire.’
3:9The Jews knew that they were God's special people. But how they lived was important to God. God wanted them to live good lives. At that time, many of them did not seem to understand that. When they did not obey him, he was angry with them. He was ready to punish those people, if they would not obey him.
3:9The Jews called themselves ‘children of Abraham’. God had used him many centuries before to start their family.
10 ‘So, what should we do?’ the crowd asked.
11 John answered, ‘If you have two shirts, give one away. Give it to someone who does not have even one shirt. If you have some food, give some of it away. Give some to someone who has no food.’
12 In the crowd, there were people that took taxes on behalf of the government. These men also wanted John to baptise them. They asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ 13 John told them, ‘You must take the right amount of money from people. You must not take more money than the rules say you should take.’
14 Then some soldiers asked John, ‘What about us? What should we do?’
‘Do not rob people of their money,’ John replied. ‘Do not say that a person has done something wrong, if he has not. It is wrong to get money by doing that. You should be happy with the money that you receive for your work.’
3:14Many people who took money on behalf of the government were not honest. They often took too much money. They took it for themselves. John told them that they should be honest. God would then see that these people really wanted to obey him.
15 At this time people were thinking, ‘Is John the Messiah that God has promised?’ They were all hoping that he might be. 16 John knew what they were thinking. He said to them, ‘I baptise you with water. But someone else is coming soon. He is much greater than I am. I am not good enough even to undo his shoes for him. This other person will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 He is like a farmer that brings the wheat home from his field. He uses a special tool to throw the wheat up in the air. He does this to make the wheat seeds separate from what remains. Then he cleans his yard. He carefully stores all the seeds to keep them safe. But he burns everything else in a great fire that nobody can put out.’
18 John said many more things to the people. He was telling them the good news about how God could change their lives. 19 One day John told the ruler Herod that it was wrong for him to marry Herodias. Before that, she had been the wife of Herod's brother. John also told Herod that he had done many other bad things. 20 So then Herod did an even worse thing; he locked John up in prison.
3:20Herod had married Herodias. She was already the wife of Philip. Philip was Herod's brother.
John baptises Jesus
21 While John was still baptising all the people, he also baptised Jesus. When he did that, Jesus was praying. Then the sky opened. 22 The Holy Spirit came down on to Jesus. When he came down like that, he looked like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son and I love you. You make me very happy.’
3:22God called Jesus, ‘my Son’. Jesus often said that God was his father. It is part of the good news, that God is also our father.
The ancestors of Jesus
23 Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his work. People thought that he was the son of Joseph. But his family went back through Heli.
3:23To the Jews, a person's family was very important. God had promised to send the Messiah, who would be from David's family. It was necessary to show that the Messiah was from the family of David. So, both Matthew and Luke record the family of Jesus. But the two lists are completely different. We think that this is the reason for the two different lists. Matthew gives the legal list of names from Abraham to Joseph. In Jewish law, Joseph was the father of Jesus but in fact, he was not. Matthew starts with Abraham and finishes with Jesus (Matthew 1:2-16). This shows that Jesus as a man is Jewish. Jesus was the Messiah that God promised to Israel. Luke shows that Jesus is not in fact a son of Joseph. So, he gives the list of the people in Mary's family. Joseph was the son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16). Heli was the father of Joseph's wife Mary. Mary was the daughter of Heli. But the Jews would not usually end or start the family list with a woman. So, Luke does not mention Mary by name.
24 Heli was from the family of Matthat.
Matthat was from the family of Levi.
Levi was from the family of Melchi.
Melchi was from the family of Jannai.
Jannai was from the family of Joseph.
25 Joseph was from the family of Mattathias.
Mattathias was from the family of Amos.
Amos was from the family of Nahum.
Nahum was from the family of Esli.
Esli was from the family of Naggai.
26 Naggai was from the family of Maath.
Maath was from the family of Mattathias.
Mattathias was from the family of Semein.
Semein was from the family of Josech.
Josech was from the family of Joda.
27 Joda was from the family of Joanan.
Joanan was from the family of Rhesa.
Rhesa was from the family of Zerubbabel.
Zerubbabel was from the family of Shealtiel.
Shealtiel was from the family of Neri.
28 Neri was from the family of Melchi.
Melchi was from the family of Addi.
Addi was from the family of Cosam.
Cosam was from the family of Elmadam.
Elmadam was from the family of Er.
29 Er was from the family of Joshua.
Joshua was from the family of Eliezer.
Eliezer was from the family of Jorim.
Jorim was from the family of Matthat.
Matthat was from the family of Levi.
30 Levi was from the family of Simeon.
Simeon was from the family of Judah.
Judah was from the family of Joseph.
Joseph was from the family of Jonam.
Jonam was from the family of Eliakim.
31 Eliakim was from the family of Melea.
Melea was from the family of Menna.
Menna was from the family of Mattatha.
Mattatha was from the family of Nathan.
Nathan was from the family of David.
32 David was from the family of Jesse.
Jesse was from the family of Obed.
Obed was from the family of Boaz.
Boaz was from the family of Salmon.
Salmon was from the family of Nahshon.
33 Nahshon was from the family of Amminadab.
Amminadab was from the family of Ram.
Ram was from the family of Hezron.
Hezron was from the family of Perez.
Perez was from the family of Judah.
34 Judah was from the family of Jacob.
Jacob was from the family of Isaac.
Isaac was from the family of Abraham.
Abraham was from the family of Terah.
Terah was from the family of Nahor.
35 Nahor was from the family of Serug.
Serug was from the family of Reu.
Reu was from the family of Peleg.
Peleg was from the family of Eber.
Eber was from the family of Shelah.
36 Shelah was from the family of Cainan.
Cainan was from the family of Arphaxad.
Arphaxad was from the family of Shem.
Shem was from the family of Noah.
Noah was from the family of Lamech.
37 Lamech was from the family of Methuselah.
Methuselah was from the family of Enoch.
Enoch was from the family of Jared.
Jared was from the family of Mahalaleel.
Mahalaleel was from the family of Cainan.
38 Cainan was from the family of Enosh.
Enosh was from the family of Seth.
Seth was from the family of Adam.
Adam was from God.
3:38The names of all the people in a family were very important to the Jews. In that way, they knew that they were Jews. The list shows that Jesus was in the same family as Judah, David and Abraham.