In the third chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Luke introduces us to the ministry of John the Baptist. John was a forerunner of Jesus, who preached to prepare the way for our Lord. In verse Luke 3:3, we read that John’s main message was a baptism of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The scriptures are consistent that all mankind has a sin problem. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and the good news of Jesus’ coming is that we have one who is able to deal fully and finally with our sins.
John the Baptist preached a message of repentance for all men to turn from their sin and return to God. Not only was this message consistent with the message of the prophets, this is the Gospel message of Jesus. As John is preaching this message, religious crowds come out to be baptized by him, but they do not receive the greeting they probably expected. John the Baptist sees through to their motives and challenges their thoughts as to what righteousness really was. In fact, he challenges them to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” We cannot decide to bear fruit. Only the Holy Spirit working in and through us can bear fruit in our lives, and fruit is the evidence of true repentance and faith. A tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. From John the Baptist’s conversations with the crowds, we see that a love of neighbor lived out shows a renewed heart.
As you pray through today’s passage, focus your attention on the same message of John the Baptist. Have you repented of your sins and turned to the living God - the only one who can fully forgive you and restore you? Have you been born again and changed by the Holy Spirit? Are you rejoicing in the GOOD news of the Gospel on a daily basis? Does your life bear fruit consistent with repentance? Do you love your neighbor tangibly? Pray that today God would do a work in your life that only He can do and that He would use you to share the message of hope with others.