No Shades of Gray
“Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking… lead me in the way that time has proven true” (Psa. 139:23,24 CEV).
Read LUKE 3:1-20
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.
“Transforming grace not only frees us from the fear of death but from the fear of life; we are freed for a new life…that is trusting, hopeful, and compassionate” (Brennan Manning).
John bursts on to the scene preaching an uncompromising message of repentance. It received a mixed reaction. Proving highly unpalatable to some, as the concluding scene demonstrates, the crowds nonetheless flocked to him to receive a tongue-lashing for their sinfulness and complacent reliance on their religious heritage. John’s coming reinstated the role of prophet in a setting where many devout Jews feared that God would not speak to his people again. Luke stresses that John’s announcement of the coming Messiah is rooted in a time and place, a place with a story of oppression and misery that had been building up to boiling point. It was common practice for the road to be improved before a king could make a long journey, and John was doing what Isaiah had foretold (Isa. 40:3-5) in preparing a highway of people’s recognition of their need of a savior, one more powerful than John who would bring judgment as well as mercy (16, 17). Moreover, the message was for all humanity, not just the Jews (6), pointing to Luke’s particular concern for Gentiles.
Vital though they were, repentance, forgiveness and baptism were not enough. John challenged his listeners to provide authentic evidence of personal change. In contrast to the strict religious observance required by the rabbis, he stressed the need for lives of simplicity and generosity, honesty and integrity. Against a backdrop of injustice and oppression, people who received baptism were committing themselves to be those in whom God’s justice could be seen—in their relationships, use of material possessions, and work practices. Receiving the good news should result in living the good news (18), and John’s challenge echoes down to us today!
What evidence of “living the good news” is seen in your life? How might God make your life a highway for him to come to those you’ll be with this week?
Lord, I need Your help to smooth out the high places of self-importance and the valleys of depression in me. King Jesus, I invite You to be my sovereign today.