7600 - John Baptist's Message


John the Baptist’s message that he delivered was s simple one that rings true today as well.

When John the Baptist gave up his seclusion in the wilderness and began his ministry, he preached a message of repentance

Let me read Luke 3, verses 7-14 then we can discuss them:
John said to the crowd 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."

These verses open with the news that crowds came out to hear John and be baptized by him. During the past 400 years God had not sent a single prophet to Israel, so there had been silence.

Get the picture. During this 400 year period of silence on God’s part, no one had a Bible, as we know it, to read. True, some few were privileged to have a portion of the Old Testament in scroll form. These were cumbersome to carry about. This resulted in few having personal access to the Scriptures. Perhaps when they visited the synagogue they could hear some portion read to them.

There was a magnetism – an invisible force drawing the people to hear the words of John the Baptist.

Many came to hear John with impure motives. They were curious and some were judgmental. The Pharisees and Sadducees were specifically addressed by John as people in this category.

Notice John uses harsh and confrontive words for these individuals. “You brood of vipers!” , he said. This is nothing less than calling them snakes, suggesting they were Satan’s offspring.

These religious leaders were legalistic in applying the Law to others’ short-comings, but later Jesus accused them (John 7:19) of not keeping the Law themselves. John was aware that God values reformation above ritual. God wanted cleansed and pure hearts, not a cover-up attempt to keep a set of rules in public, but live like the devil in private.

John was asking, “Is your coming to hear me based upon a faith motivated by a desire for a new, transformed life?” The baptism which John administered was to be a true picture of death to the old life – a true repentance.

John said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” In other words, he taught that the words from your mouth must be backed up by a life of obedience to what God requires.

We can observe that Tax Collectors were in position to shake down people – to require more than lawful. God’s way is to deal honestly.

And then there were soldiers interested in a peaceful, cleansed heart. What should they do? John outlined a clear principle: Be diligent in your job, but never, never accuse people falsely or seek to intimidate them in order to get more money than is rightfully due. Don’t use extortion in any form. Be content with your pay.

John’s words were from God. He had a mandate to prepare the hearts of the people to recognize and respond to the Messiah, who was scheduled to arrive shortly.

Today, these words are more forceful because God’s Word tells us we are not under law, but under grace. The book of 1 John clearly proclaims that we lie when we say “we love God”, yet continually disobey.