Summary: Looking at how we all need to know Jesus personally, we can’t be ushered in through someone else’s faith.
-it’s the third week of Advent and we’re going to continue with our stories of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus.
-last week we had the background of when John was doing this and the prophecy from Isaiah of his job. Today, we get to hear a little about how John prepared the way.
**Luke 3:7-18 -> 7Here is a sample of John’s preaching to the crowds that came for baptism: “You brood of snakes! You are trying to escape hell without truly turning to God! That is why you want to be baptized! 8First go and prove by the way you live that you really have repented. And don’t think you are safe because you are descendants of Abraham. That isn’t enough. God can produce children of Abraham from these desert stones! 9The ax of His judgment is poised over you, ready to sever your roots and cut you down. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” 10The crowd replied, “What do you want us to do?” 11“If you have two coats,” he replied, “give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry.” 12Even tax collectors—notorious for their corruption—came to be baptized and asked, “How shall we prove to you that we have abandoned our sins?” 13“By your honesty,” he replied. “Make sure you collect no more taxes than the Roman government requires you to.” 14“And us,” asked some soldiers, “what about us?” John replied, “Don’t extort money by threats and violence; don’t accuse anyone of what you know he didn’t do; and be content with your pay!” 15Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and eager to know whether or not John was He. This was the question of the hour and was being discussed everywhere. 16John answered the question by saying, “I baptize only with water; but Someone is coming soon who has far higher authority than mine; in fact, I am not even worthy of being His slave. He will baptize you with fire—with the Holy Spirit. 17He will separate chaff from grain, and burn up the chaff with eternal fire and store away the grain.” 18He used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people. (LB)
-I love that last verse. I wonder what other “such warnings” John used to proclaim the Good News.
-and I can guess what you’re first reaction to this was, it would have been the same as mine. This doesn’t sound like a Good News type message.
-but I want to take a look at it. Two thousand years later there are issues in here that we steal deal with. Like:
1. GRANDHILDREN OF GOD
-it’s a term that I heard many years ago that John the Baptist is dealing with here.
-the people John was talking to here seem to have this idea that they are God’s simply because of their ancestry. They are children of Abraham, so they are therefore God’s.
-but John is challenging that thinking. He’s saying all sorts of crazy things like truly turning to God and repentance.
-Paul said the same thing in Romans:
**Ro. 2:28-29 -> 28For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. 29No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people. (NLT)
-what makes a person a true follower of God is by a change of heart, nothing else.
-and I know that seems basic and simple to most people, but in the world that we live in, a lot of people do not understand that. Tony Campolo, a professor of sociology talked about this one day, how a lot of people don’t know what being a Christian means. People think “I’m a Christian because I was born in America, a Christian nation” just like these people John was talking with thought they were children of God because they were born in Israel.
-I bet you’ve noticed this at work or wherever. I love talking with students at the schools. Almost every single one is a Christian or an atheist. And I talk to some people there who don’t go to church, don’t read their Bible, don’t pray, they don’t have a clue who God is. But they’re Christian. I’m American or my mom goes to church or we celebrate Christmas.
-the expression that keeps coming back to me. God has no grandchildren.
-no one is going to be able to stand before God whenever that happens and when God says “I never knew you” they can reply “But you know my mom, so I’m in. Right?”