Telling It How It Is
Pray that you will be in a quiet, receptive state of mind and spirit when you read this passage and pray.
Read LUKE 3:1-20
 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar-when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene-  during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.  He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.  Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.  And all mankind will see God’s salvation.'”  John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.  The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”  “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.  John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”  Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”  “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.  Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely-be content with your pay.”  The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.  John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”  And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.  But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done,  Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was John the Baptist’s calling and purpose?
John the Baptist is hardly tactful (7)! Ultimately, he tells the truth and is killed for it. For those with property or power, his words–or rather his Word (2)–are bound to seem threatening. He is predicting no less than apocalypse for a world order that has served many of these people well. No wonder his audience seems more stunned than anything. “What shall we do?” is their response. John must have been a scary figure: not, presumably, physically but because his listeners were convinced that this man was indeed a messenger from God.
In three ways, John signals fundamental change. First, the words of Isaiah, fulfilled in John’s ministry, can only be interpreted as a divine ultimatum for sin. No more rituals and gestures: God is now coming in person to sort out this mess. Second, the ancient retort that, “we are the children of Abraham” is ineffective. God can make children for himself from stones, or even from you and me. Third, John can deliver the message and offer baptism with water; but someone else is expected. He will come with the Holy Spirit, and with fire (16).
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any ways in which your Christian life may have been superficial and what to do.
Lord Jesus, keep me open to Your Word. I want it to change me as You would have it.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.