Dr. Luke has been weaving together the stories of these two remarkable boys—John and Jesus—born six months apart, both of whom will be integral in this new chapter of redemption that God is writing in salvation history. God is clearly on the move, and these two boys will be central to His saving work as it breaks through!
The last we heard of John was in Luke 1:80, “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” But today we’re going to see him rising into the height of his ministry. John the Baptist will prepare the way of the Lord, crying out as a voice in the wilderness.
John’s call, in this passage, is to the “why”, “what”, and the “how” of repentance.
The “Why” of Repentance
Repentance is a call to rethink the way you’re living, to turn around, and head in a whole new direction. Repentance feels like death, but it is the only way to life.
The “What” of Repentance (3:3-6)
There are four major life-patterns that John is calling people to turn away from.
- Cultural Religiosity (3:7-9)
In John’s day, like ours, people hid behind their religious cultural heritage and failed to love God for themselves.
When the Lord shows up, He will separate those who truly know him and are bearing good fruit, from those who are fruitlessly going along with the religious cultural flow.
- Disintegrated Faith (3:10-14)
Repentance is about getting right with God, but the fruit of repentance is about living right with others. Loving God rightly means loving others rightly.
- Hypocritical Fakery (3:15-17)
Jesus will baptize, not with water but the Holy Spirit and fire.
The Lord is separating the valuable and genuine from what is worthless and false. Jesus can see through all the fakery, and He’ll sort it out perfectly on the day of judgment.
- Defiant Indulgence (3:19-20)
John called Herod out for his Defiant Indulgence. Herod figured that the rules didn’t apply to him because he was in power.
Repentance is turning away from ourselves, and turning instead toward God.
The “How” of Repentance
Whenever we feel the weight of conviction, we’re faced with a choice. To yield in tenderness or to become defensive.
Repentance means surrendering to the Lord and walking in faithful obedience.
That’s why we need Jesus. Jesus took the fire; he felt the purging and rose again to clothe us in his righteousness forever.
Takeaway: Repentance is good news, if you and I will receive it.