Our scripture this morning is Luke 3:7-18.
When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” The crowds asked, “What should we do?” John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?” He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.” “What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.” Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah. John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people.
John the Baptist was called to be the herald of Christ, proclaiming the Messiah’s coming and preparing people for the kingdom of God. He didn’t mince words, warning them that their status as descendants of Abraham will not save them. He teaches that each of us must “prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (v. 8 ).
John alerted people to the presence of Jesus in their time that they might be open to His lessons. He also has some very specific instructions when the people ask what they should do. Jesus would teach these things and more, that we must love God and one another, treating each other as we would want to be treated.
Like Jesus, John was humble about his position, giving the glory to God and teaching the way to be saved. He tells us “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am” and “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (v. 16). John wants us all to know who Jesus is and why He has come. May we hear and heed his call.
Loving Lord, we are amazed that You are willing to become one of us that we might know Your love and be saved. Help us to share this blessing with all Your children. Amen.