Thursday 24 June 2010

Bible Book:

"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" (v.4)

Luke 3:1-17 Thursday 24 June 2010


On this day many churches celebrate the witness of John theBaptist, so we depart temporarily from the theme of the week. Luketells of the beginning of John's ministry around the River Jordanand his central task of preparing the way for the one who willbaptise with fire.

John is a strange preacher! Accusing those who come to hear you tobe snakes and hypocrites is hardly designed to win over yourcongregation! In Luke's account, John tars everyone with the samebrush. Compare this with the account in Matthew (3:1-12) where John speaks favourably to thecrowd and only speaks against the religious teachers and leaders(the Pharisees and the Sadducees).

Luke clearly draws attention to the danger which threatens everyone- not just snakes and hypocrites. The tree is about to be cut down,the chaff burned in the fire. Appeals to religious ancestry ortraditions cannot help. The coming Messiah does not remove thisthreat for he is the one who will baptise with fire in order tocleanse and purify. Only repentance will do.

Luke fleshes out what John's baptism of confession and repentancemean, in ways that are probably as surprising to us as they mighthave been to John's hearers. When they ask him what they should do(in verse 10) John becomes remarkably practical: share your food,give away one coat if you have two. To tax collectors and soldiershe tells them to do their work fairly and without malice. Do weexpect something more earth shattering to make smooth the way ofthe Lord, to straighten paths and fill valleys?

John is, in one sense, simply continuing a basic theme of all theprophets: "what does the Lord require but to do justice, and tolove kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8). Johnnames what justice, kindness and humility are for his audience -simple acts of hospitality, equity, fairness and respect. Acts suchas these level and straighten, heralding and preparing the adventof God. Why are we so surprised?

To Ponder

When you confess and repent do you have the kindof things John speaks of in mind?

Is it true that Jesus 'accepts us as we are' ordo we ignore at our peril that he baptises with fire? Could it beboth? What are your thoughts?

Previous Page Wednesday 23 June 2010
Next Page Friday 25 June 2010