John the Baptist preached repentance and testified of the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ was baptized by John and then fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. After traveling to Galilee, Jesus declared to the people in Nazareth that He was the Messiah. The people of Nazareth rejected Him, and He went to Capernaum, where He healed the sick and cast out devils.
Spend a few moments pondering the following questions:
Have you ever had someone tease or mock you because you were a member of the Church?
Has anyone ever made fun of or challenged something you believe in or a standard you try to live?
Are there parties or gatherings you were not invited to or where you felt uneasy because of your religion?
As you study Luke 3:1–22, look for a truth that can explain why those who live the gospel may feel separated from others at times.
Under the law of Moses, the presiding officer of the Aaronic Priesthood was called the high priest. However, by the time of the Savior’s ministry, the office of high priest had become corrupted. The high priest was also the political head of the nation, but holders of that office were not selected by God at this time. They were selected by men such as Herod and other Roman officials (see Bible Dictionary, “High priest”).
In John’s day some people believed that because they were descendants of Abraham, they were better than others or that God loved them more than the non-Israelites (see Luke 3:8, footnote d). This situation could be like people today thinking they would go to heaven simply because they were members of the Church.
Notice in verse 9 what will happen to those who do not bring forth “good fruit,” or live righteously.
In Luke 3:10–15 we read that John taught specific groups of Jewish society how they could bring forth good fruit by living righteously. John’s ministry was impressive, and some thought he might be the Messiah.
Read Luke 3:16–17, looking for what John said the Messiah would do when He came.
The phrase “baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16) refers to the purifying and sanctifying effect of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “An individual must be born of water and the spirit in order to get into the kingdom of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 90).
To further understand Luke 3:17, it is helpful to understand about separating wheat from chaff.
After wheat was harvested and threshed (when the grain was separated from the rest of the plant), the farmer would then winnow the grain. Winnowing was an ancient method used to separate wheat kernels from chaff (the outer shell) and the husk. A winnower would use a large shovel or wooden fork called a fan to throw the threshed wheat into the air. The breeze would carry away the lighter, undesirable chaff, and the heavier wheat kernels would fall to the threshing floor.
In John’s analogy, what might the wheat represent?
What might the chaff represent?
One important doctrine taught in Luke 3:16–17 is that Jesus Christ separates the righteous from the wicked.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Although the final separation of the righteous from the wicked will take place at the Day of Judgment, in what ways can following Jesus Christ and living His gospel cause His disciples to be separated from unrighteousness now?
Why do we need to understand that as we seek to follow Jesus Christ and live His gospel we may feel or be separated from others?
Consider the following words: brokenhearted, bruised, captive, poor, and blind. Have you ever felt that one or more of these words may have described how you felt about yourself? As you study Luke 4:14–30, look for words that teach how Jesus Christ was sent to heal the brokenhearted and deliver the captives.
In Luke 4:14–17 we read that after Jesus returned from fasting and being tempted in the wilderness, He began to preach in the synagogues in Galilee. Soon, He returned to His hometown of Nazareth. While there, He stood in a synagogue to read from the book of Isaiah, who prophesied concerning the divine mission of the Messiah.
Read Luke 4:18–20, looking for what Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would do for people. You may want to mark what you find.
Read Luke 4:21, looking for what Jesus said about the scripture passage He had read.
By saying that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled, Jesus was announcing that He was the Messiah referred to in the prophecy. Consider writing the following doctrine in your scriptures: Jesus Christ was sent to heal the brokenhearted and deliver those who are spiritually captive.
From what you know about the Savior’s ministry, what are some things He did that fulfilled this prophecy?
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What experiences have you seen that show how Jesus Christ continues to heal and deliver us in our day?
Read Luke 4:22, looking for how people of Nazareth reacted to Jesus’s declaration that He was the long-awaited Messiah.
In Luke 4:23 we read that Jesus knew the people in Nazareth would challenge Him to prove He was the Messiah by repeating the miracles He had performed in Capernaum. Jesus responded by citing two scriptural accounts to teach them a principle about faith.
Read Luke 4:24–27, looking for the two accounts Jesus referenced. You may want to briefly read the account of Elijah and a widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:1–16 and the account of Naaman and Elisha in 2 Kings 5:1–14. Pay particular attention to what the widow and Naaman did to demonstrate their faith.
In what ways did the widow of Zarephath and Naaman demonstrate faith?
It is important to know that the Old Testament prophets Elias (Elijah) and Eliseus (Elisha) both performed miracles for people who were not Israelites (Gentiles). Jesus was teaching those in Nazareth that although there were widows and lepers among the Israelites, two Gentiles were able to experience miracles because they had faith and accepted God’s prophets.
Because so many of the people of Nazareth lacked faith in Him, Jesus performed very few miracles there (see Matthew 13:54–58; Mark 6:1–6). We can learn an important principle about faith when we contrast the people in Nazareth with the widow of Zarephath and Naaman: When we demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ, we can see miracles occur.
In your scripture study journal, make a list of ways we can demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Review Luke 4:18, and consider ways you need to demonstrate faith in Jesus Christ so you can receive the blessings listed there.
Read Luke 4:28–30, looking for how those in the synagogue responded to what Jesus said.
Ponder how this account illustrates how Jesus Christ will separate the wicked from the righteous (see Luke 3:17).
Read Luke 4:31–44, looking for the how the response of the people of Capernaum differed from the response of those in Nazareth.
How do these accounts illustrate the principle that when we demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ, we can receive His blessings?
Conclude your study for today by writing in your scripture study journal your testimony of Jesus Christ as the Savior and of the blessings you have experienced as you have demonstrated faith in Him.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Luke 3–4 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: