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“REPENT,” HE SAID, “FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS NEAR” (Matthew 3:2 Eyewitness).
Eyewitness: pp. 31,32
In Your Bible: Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:2-8; Luke 3:1-18
Often people are recognized by what they wear, what they say or how they say it. That’s truly the case of the prophets of God. They wore unusual garments, were often loners, and fearlessly brought God’s message to the people whether the listeners wanted to hear it or not!
THINGS WE KNOW ABOUT JOHN THE BAPTIST
* His father was Zacharias (Luke 3:2 New American Standard Bible, NASB).
* His mother Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, greeted her (Luke 1:31 NASB).
* In Elizabeth’s womb, John leapt with exaltation at this greeting (Luke 1:44 NASB).
* His clothes were like that of a prophet – rough and rudimentary (Matthew 3:4 NASB).
* He ate extremely simple foods – locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4 NASB).
* People came from Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordan Valley to hear him (Matthew 3:5).
HIS MESSAGE – A DEMAND AND A PROMISE
The Demand: Man must repent for his sinful life.
* Turn from evil to God.
* Clean his heart and live a godly life.
The Promise: The Spirit of God (breath and power of God) will be poured out on mankind.
* The Spirit can bring order out of disorder.
* The Spirit enables man to see truth – God’s truth.
When crowds of people came to be baptized, John the Baptist didn’t mince words. He said, “You bunch of snakes. Who warned you to flee God’s judgement? The way you live proves whether you have left your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:7 Eyewitness).
When the people heard John proclaiming the need for repentance (God’s message) in the wilderness, for the first time they understood, they were sinners. This was a new concept for the Jews. After all they were Sons of Abraham.
Hearers of this message were compelled to ask, “What shall we do?” John the Baptist gave these guidelines on how to live:
* “If you have two garments, give one to the poor. Share your food with the people who are starving” (Luke 3:11 Eyewitness).
* To the tax collectors who also asked what to do, he said, “Do not collect any more taxes than the government requires” (Luke 3:13 Eyewitness).
* To the soldiers, he said, “Be content with your pay. Never extort money or make false accusations” (Luke 3:14 Eyewitness).
With many other words, John the Baptizer encouraged the people and preached about how they could gain hope for salvation (Luke 3:18 Eyewitness).
We often think of John the Baptist as a wild man shouting in the desert to the Pharisees “You brood of vipers”……. maybe he was and maybe they were! But most important, to those who would listen, he showed how to gain hope for salvation – Jesus the Christ.
Application: Today we can do something about our sin nature. Face up to it – Repent..Turn Away. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus with a powerful direct message. He pointed to the Messiah and the Holy Spirit which were to come, bringing life everlasting through Jesus.
Prayer: Father, thank you for showing all mankind that repentance, turning away from sin, then turning to you cleanses our heart.
Photos: Jesus – His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey 1979.