Summary: ADVENT 3(C) - Now is our time to prepare with repentance and with fruitfulness.
NOW IS OUR TIME TO PREPARE
LUKE 3:7--14 DECEMBER 15, 2002
7John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce 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. 9The 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."
10"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
11John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
13"Don’t collect any more than you are required to," he told them.
14Then 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."
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
From day to day we don’t always get things accomplished. It might even be week-to-week, month-to-month, or year-to-year before we do the projects we were planning. We can’t always ‘get it done tomorrow’ because tomorrow turns into today. It is you and I who live in the present. We live in what is called today, looking ahead often times to the future.
The Lord reminds us of that very fact today as John the Baptist prepares us. He says yes, we look ahead to the future, but we prepare also day by day for that future. We are concerned about what is in the present. The present, the Lord tells us, is our time of grace. Every day that God gives us is our time of grace, an opportunity to grow in our Christian faith.
Paul writes in Corinthians as he quotes the Old Testament: "For he says, ’In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation"(2 CORINTHIANS 6:2). As John the Baptist came and preached the message of repentance. That was his message. He says, ‘Now is the day of salvation. Now is the time of God’s favor.’ It is that message from John that we use as a theme when he says, ‘Now is our time to prepare.’ In other words, now is our time to get ready.
NOW IS OUR TIME TO PREPARE
I. With repentance
II. With fruitfulness
I. With repentance
The readings this year and our texts in this season have centered a lot around John the Baptist (more than usual.) They remind us of the importance that he played in making straight the paths for the Lord and preparing the way for Him to come. His message was one that people came to hear, even though he spoke at times very harshly to the crowds. John told them of God’s law very bluntly and very pointedly. Listen to our text begin at verse 7: John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers!” He calls them snakes—a brood of vipers! Isn’t that a fitting description of them? Later on, Jesus would call them the same thing. They would come and claim their heritage from Abraham. He would remind them that really, they were children of their father, Satan, who was the ‘father of lies’, that first serpent; therefore, a brood of vipers!
John wanted to know something from them. ‘Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?’ He was wondering why they came out to hear the message, why they came to see him, John the Baptist. They hadn’t listened to the prophets very often. They dismissed Jeremiah and the prophets before him. They even put the some of the prophets of God to death. Now he was wondering what changed their minds, why they came out from their temple, why they came out from the synagogue, why they came out from their nice city and fine homes to see him. Part of the reason they came to see him was that they had heard many things about him. He was living out in the desert by himself. It was an odd lifestyle that he lived. He gave them the warning not to use their same old tired excuse with him. He said, ‘Do not begin to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father.’ Generation after generation had said that. They gave that as the reason of not listening to the prophets of God. They said, ‘after all, God chose us. God made us his children.’ They were right but they had used that so long that they had forgotten faith. John tells them: ‘For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.’ He turned to these people who came out to him and said, ‘you think you are alive. If you think that Abraham and his faith makes you faithful people, God can make far better living believers out of these dead stones than what you already are.’ That was a pronouncement of God’s judgement against these people.