1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS: ‘PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD; MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.
5 EVERY VALLEY SHALL BE FILLED AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED PLACES SHALL BE MADE STRAIGHT AND THE ROUGH WAYS SMOOTH;
6 AND ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.’ “
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”
12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”
14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,
16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.
19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,
20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.
21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.
22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli,
24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph,
25 the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,
26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah,
27 the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er,
29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,
30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim,
31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,
34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,
36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan,
38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
For folks that were deep into all the dos and don’ts, there was still a need for heart preparation. The Messiah was already present among them, but for His ministry to have its intended effect, there was a need for honoring God that went way past the ticky-tack details of the law. Jesus would reference this later, that actions of the heart were more critical than attempts at “keeping” a list of dictates. Though everyone didn’t respond to John’s preaching, his message still had an essential impact. Turning even a portion in the fear of the Lord affected the atmosphere with honor for what Jesus would bring. Choices for the consecration of lifestyles preceded a reception of the deeper things of the Spirit.
It should be clear from John’s example that the message that makes way for the fullness of the Spirit is not a touchy-feely one. Just making sure everyone feels good about themselves apart from any serious choices for righteousness will only maintain the hardness of hearts to the total transformation of the Spirit’s movements. It’s not ok to act and talk like the world’s evil and expect heaven’s visitation. If but a core and portion will consider the consequences of falling into the hands of an uncompromisingly holy God, there will be a necessary preparation made in the Spirit. Though the day of God’s grace and mercy powerfully enables triumph over sin, there is yet a need for validating fruit of its effect in order for there to be encounters of the Spirit’s blessing. Where there is a dishonor for the ways of the Father, there will be grieving of the Spirit’s demonstrated power. There will be no “spiritual” ascendency in gifting beyond the preparations of the Spirit’s fruit. To claim representation of the Spirit apart from simple obedience to the ways of love will be participating in an evil spiritual movement that directly opposes the heart of the Father in Christ.