Vs 3 And (John the Baptist) went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Vs 8 “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance …”
Vs 10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?”
Vs 11 And (John) answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
Vs 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”
Vs 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
Vs 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.
Vs 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and fa voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
What a fascinating sequence of events Luke lays out here.
John is baptizing people and telling them to “bear fruit”. A variety of people then ask, “What shall we do?”
What do I need to DO to bear this fruit you speak of John?
First, what’s interesting are the groups of people who ask.
Then, what’s interesting are the specific responses that John gives them.
So, we have “the crowd” … a Jewish crowd … the religious people.
We also have “the soldiers” … representatives of Rome … the pagan people.
In the middle are “the tax collectors” … those trying to straddle both … part of the religious tribe, but seeking benefits of the pagan power structure.
They all want to “do something” … They want to add some activity to their life.
And while each group wants to ADD something to the “To Do List”, John is fascinatingly telling them to “do” LESS!
To the crowd … You’ve accumulated surplus clothing and food …. Share some of it … make do with less.
To the tax collectors … Collect no more than authorized … collect less.
To the soldiers … Do not extort money …. be content with less.
I’m seeing John’s instructions to the people as a “how to” in the exercise of power.
Everybody that is encountering John thinks they have some level of power to control things, otherwise, they would not be asking John what they could do to “bear fruit”.
And, indeed, everybody does have a certain power, but not to control or exercise as they may think.
Any power an individual has been granted or authorized should be exercised in consideration of others.
What does this mean for me?
Well … I need to realize that I do have power. Everyone does. We were all created by God “to rule”.
But I can’t abuse this power, this authority, given by God.
We rule over creation, the earth. I can’t exercise power over someone else created in the image of God.
The dignity of the individual is at stake, as well as the bearing of fruit in this world.
So, where ever I find myself in society, I must consider others more and myself less.
Whether I am “the crowd”, “the soldier”, or “the tax collector”, I must consider John’s instructions …
To “share” … To live “as authorized to” … and to “be content” …
“Share” … “Live as authorized” … “Be content”.
If I live this way, fruit will follow.
More importantly, we see Jesus live this out. There was no one with more power. John called Him … “mightier”.
Yet, Jesus even went last in baptism, after “all the people were baptized”.
And Jesus did not give clothing or food, He gave His life.
And Jesus lived as authorized, to lay down His life and take it up again.
And Jesus lived content in “not my will, but Your will be done”.
Still more, it was not living with power that pleased God.
God declared His pleasure with His Son at His baptism and before His public ministry.
God was pleased with His Son because of who He was, not because of what He had done!
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Thank You God for you word.
Help me see other as you do that are worthy of dignity.
Help me share, to live as you authorize me to, and to be content.
Help me look to He who is mightier
In Jesus name