Summary: Amidst commercial hype, do we forget the meaning of Christmas? What are some of the most important things that a human being can do at Christmas, things we don’t want to neglect? Let’s look at Luke 3:7-18 and see what profound changes John expected with preparation for Christ’s coming.
Amidst commercial hype, do we forget the meaning of Christmas? What are some of the most important things that a human being can do at Christmas, things we don’t want to neglect? Let’s look at Luke 3:7-18 and see what profound changes John expected with preparation for Christ’s coming.
Luke 3:7 “So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’” Was John unconcerned about being liked? Do John and Jesus show that public correction is sometimes warranted?
When a preacher gets cranked up and preaches what we call hellfire and brimstone, why are we offended? Is God trying to tell us something? Is such a preacher’s correction God’s love? Is religious dedication without repentance worthless? Such strong preaching was not Jesus’ everyday mode, but it was occasionally.
Luke 3:8 “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” What fruits might evidence repentance (Matthew 5:16)?
Luke 3:9 “Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Like apostolic succession, is physical descent from Abraham irrelevant to the fruit of repentance? Can God use stones?
Luke 3:10-11 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” A fruit, good deeds?
Luke 3:12-13 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” Do nothing, just have faith? Do we prove our repentance by good deeds?
Luke 3:14 “Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, ‘And what about us, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.’” Is fruit or evidence of repentance doing good deeds, works?
Luke 3:15 “Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ” Christ means literally, the anointed One, the Messiah, anointed with oil, chosen by God for a special purpose, usually a king.
Luke 3:16 “John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Luke 3:17 His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Winnowing is the process of separating a grain from its hulls or chaff using moving air.
Preaching is like winnowing. Some repent. Some will burn. Do we share our clothing and food? Do we collect more than is honest? Do we take money by force, with false accusations? Are we content with our wages? On judgment day, will we be among the wheat or the chaff?
Luke 3:18 “So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people.” Preaching calls us near to hear. How do we react to the appeals made in our churches? Do we dismiss the urging? Is the most important instruction on the planet, the Bible, boring to us?
Are we lost in commercial glitz, forgetting what’s really important? Does remembering the coming of the Christ lead us to repentance? Do we share? Are we honest? Do we forcefully take? Do we falsely accuse? Are we content? Are we among wheat or chaff? Christmas is about Jesus the Christ.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation