Our scripture this morning is Luke 3:7-18.
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
John the Baptist is plain spoken about the coming Messiah and our reaction to that gift. We must recognize Him, change our hearts and lives and be responsible members of our human community and God’s kingdom. There will be a reckoning for all and He will judge who has obeyed His commandments.
John isn’t out to scare anyone into behaving, he is merely telling us the truth about Christ’s coming to be with us for a time and His return in power and glory at the last day. He answers the people honestly when they ask what they should do – share with those in need, don’t cheat, don’t bully. John doesn’t go into deep theological concepts, he just tells it like it is.
Jesus came to show us God’s love and how we are to live for Him. John tells us how we can be faithful followers of Jesus and help to change the lives of others by testifying to our faith. We have received an invitation to salvation, we must accept that gift and share it with the world.
Loving Lord, thank You for our savior, Jesus Christ. Help us to follow His example, and be eager witnesses to Your coming kingdom. Amen.