Friday, December 5, 2008

Luke, Chapter 3 part 1

I have long been fascinated by the life of John the Baptist. He is one of my favorite Biblical figures, right up there with Abraham, David, and Paul. John was an extraordinary man. He saw that he had a special calling and pursued it with ambitious zeal. In that, he also knew his place. He developed a great following in the desert, yet never let this following go to his head. He never sought power. He longed only to pursue his mission and teach the message of repentance. He knew he was here to prepare the way for Christ, not to be Christ.

15The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. 16John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." – Luke 3:15-17

The heart of John's message was one of repentance. We see in these verses that he did not have the power to forgive. He knew that salvation was not his to grant. Instead, he was here to teach the basic path of Jesus' message. Jesus is the one with the power to grant salvation. First though, we must repent of our sins and recognize the need for salvation. This was the essential message that John the Baptist preached. He wanted to show us that we had a need for salvation, not that we can automatically expect it because of who we are.

What fascinates me about John the Baptist is the way he selflessly filled this role, even unto death. He ends this passage by being imprisoned, yet he served with the same gusto that Paul would later serve. I also like how there was no middle ground with him. I am a very black and white person, almost too much so. I do not like middle ground. With me, you're either on one side or another. That is how John was, and that is good because it relates to Christ's message. There is no middle ground when it comes to repentance. You must have it. John taught this, and it is an essential part of what we need when we approach Christ seeking salvation.

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