Long ago, the prophet Isaiah referred to John when he wrote: Listen! Someone is shouting, “Clear a path in the wilderness, for the Lord our God is coming. Fill the valleys and flatten the mountains. Straighten the curves and smooth the rough places. The glory of the Lord will appear for all to see. It will surely come to pass” (Luke 3:4-6 Eyewitness).
Eyewitness: Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3 (pp. 31,32)
In your Bible: Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3
Jesus’ famous cousin, came from the wilderness of Judea and settled near the Jordan River. He was John (the Baptist), who eagerly awaited the Messiah. He spoke a strong message for the need for repentance to all who would hear.
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 they wanted to hear it or not! People came from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and the Jordan valley to see and hear John. They confessed their sins and were baptized in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:5,6 Eyewitness).
There is a beautiful synagogue prayer which runs, “Cause us to return O Father unto thy law; draw us near, O King, unto thy service; bring us back in perfect repentance unto thy presence. Blessed art thou O Lord, who delights in repentance.” [Emphasis mine]. John was fully within the tradition of his people when he demanded that his hearers must bring fruit to show their repentance. But that repentance had to be shown in a real change of life.**
The Demand – Repent
- Turn from evil thoughts and deeds
- Live for God
The Promise – Benefit
- Brings disorder to order
- Enables man to see truth – God’s Truth
The people asked, “What more they should do?” John gave this guideline as a start:
- “If you have two garments, give one to the poor”
- “Share your food with people who are starving”
- “Do not collect any more taxes than the government requires”
- “(Soldiers) be content with your pay, never extort money or make false accusations” (Luke 3:11-14 Eyewitness)
Prayer: Father, thank you for granting forgiveness from sin. I want to repent and change from my sinful ways. You are so patient with me.
Questions: John, the forerunner of Jesus, preached about repentance. Why do we come to Jesus to spent and ask for forgiveness? What Scriptures show God forgives those who sincerely repent and change their ways?
* Photo from Jesus His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey 1977, p31.
** The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, William Barclay, Revised Edition, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1958, pp. 53,54.