Summary: Authentic Christianity is a transformed life. It does not end with repentance… Repentance is the turning point, the seed that germinates in the heart and life of believers ~ but that seed must be allowed to grow and produce much fruit.
Why Christmas Is a Big Deal:
Scripture Text: Luke 3.7-18
When I go mountain hiking, it is a long, physically-draining experience. My usual approach is to get-the-gear-on, …plug-up my MP3 player, …and shut-out the ache-in-my-knees by listening to good-music!
There’s an interesting-little-ritual that many hikers participate in… At certain places along the trail, …they will place a rock on a pile-of-rocks ~ (they are called ‘cairns’ ~) …a pile that was-started by the hundreds of hikers who’ve made-it-that-far before them. And as you-place your-rock on the pile, …it’s your-way-of-saying, “I was here! I made it, too!” The pile-of-rocks stands as a silent-witness to the achievement. And as-long-as that pile-of-rocks-stands, …you can look at it and remember that you made it to that-point ~ …whether-it-be 12,000 feet, …or 13,500 feet above sea-level, …or, at 14,000 feet as you begin the final-approach to the summit.
People have been piling up rocks for a very-long-time. It’s not-just mountain hikers ~ …leaving those piles-of-silent-testimonies, …but-also the ancient Egyptians ~ …piling stones on top of one-another (to form the pyramids); …and the Romans ~ …who built the coliseums and theaters; …and the Aztec and Mayan civilization ~ …which carved cities out of the jungles of central-America; ….and the people-of-God ~ like Jacob, who set up a large stone as a symbolic-reminder of-when God appeared to Him at a place called ‘Bethel’ …and the Israelites ~ who piled up stones as they marched through the River-Jordan, ….and when God made covenant with Joshua and the people of Israel ~ …the people of God set up piles of rocks to stand as witnesses to what had happened at significant-spots in-the-road.
And-whenever someone would pass-that-way, again, …they would see the pile-of-rocks and they would remember ~ …They remembered what happened there-in-that place; …they remembered that they had been-there and that God had-met-them there, …and it would be an occasion to celebrate the goodness-and-the-blessings of God. He is faithful ~ and the piles of rocks testified to the things that God had-done to bring them along-the-way.
When John the Baptist started preaching and telling the people they needed-to-repent, …he knew that the people would protest (at-least, to-a-point), …and they would point to the piles-of-rocks in the past. They would point to the pile-of-rocks that Jacob and Joshua and others ~ …John knew that the people would point to the piles of rocks as a way-of-saying: “We’re the children of the guy that left-this-stone! “We are the heirs of his heritage! “Our father-Abraham met with God, …and God made promises to-him, “…and that’s good-enough for us!”
The problem with that argument is (and John says this…): …they weren’t-there when those rocks were piled-up! Abraham left a tremendous-testimony to God’s grace and His promises; …Joshua was a tremendous leader and his pile-of-rocks represent the promises-fulfilled …but the children can’t claim the rocks unless they walk-the-path.