Luke 3 is one of the most overlooked passages in the Gospels...for me, anyway. I go straight from the birth stories of chapters 1-2, and head right for the temptation story in chapter 4. But this evening, while reading over this obscure chapter three, I found myself amazed at what I was reading.
Luke gives an account of John the Baptist's initial ministry - citing Isaiah 40 (which I just posted about two days ago...) and quoting some of John's more memorable sermons: "Hey, You Brood of Vipers!" For whatever reason, this message struck a chord with the crowds. They showed up to be baptized, to repent, to find forgiveness for their sins, and find release from the bad effects of their bad lives. John - keeping his follow sermon simple - cries out to them: Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
What is the fruit of repentance for the crowd? If you have two shirts, share with the one who has none; likewise with food.
What is the fruit of repentance for the tax collectors who came to be baptized? Collect only what is required.
What is the fruit of repentance for some Roman soldiers? Be content with your pay - end your extortion schemes.
This account amazed me, it was as if I'd never read it before...it seemed so real, so intense, so complicated, yet so liberating. John was linking their repentance, their salvation, their fruitful life to acts of generosity, acts of justice, acts of contentment.
Although we're only at the beginning of this gospel, we are reading themes that are going to come up again and again in Jesus instruction to his followers.
Repentance and forgiveness...that is what drew the crowds, the tax collectors, the soldiers out to the desert to here the Good News from John. And it is what drew the crowds to Jesus. And it is what draws me to Him. Is it drawing you?