I’ve been taken back of late with the words of Luke as he describes the ministry of John the Baptist in the first half of Chapter 3.
It seems this cousin of Jesus, known for leaping- even while still in his mother’s womb, is bearing down on those who had come out to be baptized by him. John must have been a slow learner, as that is no way to build a church!
Obviously coming out of a desert experience, possibly not unlike the one described with Christ in Chapter 4 of Matthew’s gospel, this new millennium evangelist apparently now has a strong word for the “church” of that day as Luke compares, if not identifies him as the one whom Isaiah had spoken of centuries earlier.
His words laid an axe to the very roots of Judaism, those who claimed Abraham as their ticket to heaven. His challenge, if your religion has merit, show me your fruits, not your traditions.
In words apropos for today’s consumerist Americans, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one with food should do the same.” (3:11, NIV). Words possibly even more impacting if our economy does not soon turn sufficient to prop up our tremendous national debt.
Then the tax collectors, probably as capable as any financially to do what had just been recommended, avoided the challenge with flattery, “Teacher, what should we do” similar to the Pharisees who attempted to assign credentials to Jesus as “Rabbi.”
The soldiers next, government paid extortionists and then finally Luke speaks of the confused masses, now thinking John might be their long awaited Messiah, their much desired deliverer! People had gotten themselves into a bind and were now looking for someone to show up and get them out. That’s not God, that’s a bailout!
America- religious, greedy, overly taxed, protected no longer by respect but rather by sheer force, but it also takes money to marshal forces! Woes!
“John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them” (3:18b). Where did it get him? “He (Herod) locked John up in prison.” (3:20)
Why do I keep doing this? I love America, believe in the gospel and hope for reform!
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves…” II Chronicles 7:14