John the Baptist arrives on the scene in chapter three as a preacher popular with the people. As I imagine John the Baptist, I quickly forget that Luke has just told us that his father, Zechariah, was a priest in the Temple. John would have been raised with this career in mind.
Something changed for him along the way.
God's word comes to John and he moves away from the Temple and to the Jordan River which was reminiscent to the people of their ancestors crossing into the promised land. For the Jewish people of John's day, to wash in the Jordan is to leave your old self behind and cross back into Zion as a new person, renewed in the faith.
Aside from his critique of Herod, the majority of John's message that we have in the Gospels is about repentance and looking toward Jesus as the Messiah. However, we have in verses 10-14 of today's reading the moral interpretation of what repentance should look like.
The masses are asked to share what they have with the poor.
The tax collectors are asked to limit themselves on what they collect from the people.
The soldiers are told to shape up in dealing with the citizens.
These are shown as his responses to their questions. This means that they did attribute authority to him. The fact that they were listening to him and being baptized showed his popularity.
In John's call to repentance - in his call to prepare the way for Jesus - what is he calling you to do? For what do you need to repent in your life and how might you prepare for Jesus?
Imagine yourself at the river's edge and asking John, "What should I do?"
What do you think his answer might be?
|St. John the Baptist Preaching to Herod, c. 1601 by Pieter de Grebber|