Chapter three begins a section called “The Preparation for the Public Ministry.” You’ll remember that chapter two ends with Jesus being found by his parents in the temple are and then returning with them to Nazareth. It is there that he will spend nearly 20 years (depending on the chronology) growing in “wisdom and age and favor before God and men”(2:52). Sometimes, this period of time is referred to as “The Hidden Years of Jesus.”
The preparation that Jesus undergoes can be describes as both direct and ancillary. The first ancillary preparation event is the life and ministry of John the Baptist. The first direct preparation event is the Baptism of Jesus by John; and finally the temptation of Jesus in the desert by Satan (we’ll discuss this when we get to chapter 4).
The life and ministry of John the Baptist is one of preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The first twenty verses of chapter 3 describe this life and ministry: his mission was to prophesy the coming of the Messiah and then point him out when he arrives. John’s prophecy is similar to that of the Prophet Isaiah from the Old Testament. John is considered the last of the Old Testament Prophets despite the fact that his prophecy is recounted in the Gospel books of the New Testament.
Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordon River (vv. 21-22); following which the voice from the Heavens, presumably God the Father, revealing to those present the true Identity of Jesus- he is the Beloved Son of the Father. Likewise, a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, descends upon Jesus and it is here that we witness the revelation, if in only a veiled way, the Holy Trinity: the voice of the Father, the presence of Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.
The chapter closes with a genealogy of Jesus (vv. 23-38) similar to the one given in Matthew’s Gospel (vv. 1-18), although a little shorter. What’s fascinating about the genealogy offered here is that it follows the baptism of Jesus in which his paternity is proclaimed and verified. But then we are given his human origin as the foster-son of Joseph of Nazareth. But notice how the genealogy ends: Adam, the first man, is listed as also being the Son of God (v. 38). This is very peculiar. It seems as if God is the Father of all people: we are all his children and he is, as we pray, “Our Father”. Secondly, the end of the genealogy sets up a theological point that we will look at when we get to further into Luke’s Gospel: Jesus is the New Adam.
Point for Prayer
“Eternal Word, you were humble enough to let the human voice of John the Baptist prepare people for your coming. Make me a voice that is so filled with you that people will be led to you love by its joyful sharing of the Gospel” (42).