John the Baptist tells us how to prepare for Jesus

Scripture: Luke 3:1-20

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce 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. 9 The 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.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors 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.
14 Then 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.”
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

Observation: Keeping in mind this is a look at social justice, here is another great example of getting a glimpse of God’s heart. As people came to get baptised, they asked what to do in preparation of the coming of the Messiah. What would I do if I knew someone was coming soon to see me? clean up, straighten out my house, prepare a meal. All nice things, but not at all what God has in mind. He just wanted people to treat each other fairly. This is why Jesus said all the law and the prophets could be summed up in two sentences, love God and love your neighbor. By loving your neighbor as yourself, you are loving God. You are keeping his commands. It’s all so simple, but why is it so hard?

Application: let’s prepare the way for the coming of Jesus again. Let’s ensure our lifestyle is consistent with treating others with love and mercy and grace.

Prayer: God, when we see your heart in your Word, it is just so simple. God help us to keep it simple. Love others around us. Help us to do this, even when some people are just so hard to love. Help me remember I was/am hard to love too. Help us to feel your love for your people. In Jesus name, amen.