Rejoice, God’s salvation is coming for all
Luke 3:7-18 The Proclamation of John the Baptist
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’
So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
Perhaps that’s the good news that the crowds heard that day in the wilderness – that Christ is coming to cut out and burn up the parts of our life that hold us back from being agents of God’s salvation. When Christ appears on the scene we see the one who will baptize with fire – burning up our sin and fear so that we might bread for the world, feeding and nurturing others. Because Christ is coming to set us free – to remove the parts of our lives and the world that keep us from experiencing God’s love.
Perhaps that’s the news that we rejoice in – that Zephaniah proclaims in his prophecy, “Rejoice… for the Lord has taken away the judgements against you and turned away your enemies! For the Lord, your God is now in your midst, and will renew you in his love!”
“Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. ….And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, until the day of his coming.”