The Message of John the Baptist
John the Baptist’s mission is to prepare the way for Christ. And his message is one of “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” But this isn’t just John’s message. This is the same message Jesus sends the disciples out with at the end of Luke (Luke 24:47-48).
John doesn’t teach, repent so that you are ready when Jesus comes. John teaches that you need repentance and forgiveness, and Jesus is on His way to address those needs.
Repentance is turning, and true repentance must begin in the heart. The heart turns from the world to God, from sin to righteousness, from concern only for yourself to equal concern for others. And true internal repentance is always accompanied by external repentance.
The Challenge of John the Baptist
The people came in droves to hear John the Baptist preach. And many were baptized. But John challenged their sincerity. He questioned their motivation. He rejected their confidence in their Jewish heritage (“We have Abraham as our father”).
John told them that they needed to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” He warned them that any tree that didn’t bear fruit would be cut down and thrown into the fire.
The Application of John the Baptist
The people asked John what they should do, and he gave them examples of what “fruit in keeping with repentance” might look like. Give clothing or food to those in need. Take only what belongs to you. Don’t extort or threaten or abuse people.