Luke 3:3-14 NLT
3 Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 4 Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him! 5 The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth. 6 And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.’”
7 When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? 8 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. 9 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.”
10 The crowds asked, “What should we do?”
11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
12 Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”14 “What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”
When the Messiah came the first time, He had an announcer ahead of him, kind of an 'advance man' setting the stage for recognition that we all possess sin. John's job was to present a very simple message. That message was to stop sinning. In order to stop sinning, one must first recognize that the self-centered way one is living in is in opposition to God's will. And, anything in opposition to the will of God is sin. Christ came and fulfilled his mission-- to become the sacrifice for our sins.
Even religious leaders were not spared John's abrupt and straight forward commands. They were caught up in their religiosity and convinced that gave them a holy state better than anyone else. Their arrogance was the sheer evidence of their own sin and they failed to repent. But others did repent and wait for The Christ to be revealed to them.
Today, in 2010, the fact is that Christ was revealed to the world and there are lots of reasons to believe in Him. The faith that many have, is proof for them. Faith does not need miracles to prove it. Faith is just that-- faith. And we have among us men and women like those early religious leaders who are yet facing the 'ax of God's judgment' mentioned in verse 9, because they refuse to trust in simple faith and, instead rely on their deeds and religious preparations to save them. They view themselves as a cut above the normal Christian rather than the servant of all that Jesus wants us to be. Notice, John did not tell anyone who asked, to quit doing their daily activities. He merely told them to do it in God honoring ways, honest ways, truthful ways, rather than self-serving ways. The rest of the Good news is that we CAN do that, now that the power of God's Holy Spirit comes to live in us through faith in Christ Jesus as LORD.
Make this clear to someone this Christmas season and watch their joy grow!
Your servant in Christ's love