A quick question: Have you ever prejudged a person solely on appearance?
Well, if you believe outward looks tell what a person is on the inside, you might want to read this Luke Bible study lesson about how John the Baptist, a loner from the desert, preaches repentance and the coming of Jesus Christ.
Now, according to Scripture, John was not much to look at but nevertheless went down in history as one of the greatest people in the Bible! He is even revered in other religions as a major prophet.
In these verses from Luke 3, John the Baptist preached two simple messages. These were..
- Repentance from sin
- Coming of The Lord
Let’s take a look at the sins John mentions and take stock of ourselves.
John the Baptist Preaches Repentance – And About the Coming of The Christ
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.
And he came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“The voice of one calling out in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!
Every ravine will be filled,
And every mountain and hill will be lowered;
The crooked will become straight,
And the rough roads smooth;
And all flesh will see the salvation of God!’”
So he was saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Therefore produce fruits that are consistent with repentance, and do not start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children for Abraham.
But indeed the axe is already being laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what are we to do?”
And he would answer and say to them, “The one who has two tunics is to share with the one who has none; and the one who has food is to do likewise.”
Now even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what are we to do?”
And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
And soldiers also were questioning him, saying, “What are we to do, we as well?”
And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone, nor harass anyone, and be content with your wages.”
Now while the people were in a state of expectation and they all were thinking carefully in their hearts about John, whether he himself perhaps was the Christ, John responded to them all, saying, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but He is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the straps of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people. – Luke 3:1-18 (NASB)
John Baptizes with Water – Christ Baptizes with the Holy Spirit
“You brood of vipers ..”
Why did John refer to many in his congregation as “vipers?”
For one, a corrupt religious regime presided over the Jews during this time.
The high priest was appointed from the lineage of Aaron and served for life.
In fact, the Roman government, who ruled over Jerusalem at this time were installing their own version of priests and overseers so that they could maintain control over the Jewish community.
So, the setting was ripe for the coming of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist – The Famous Loner
As the stage is set above for the situation in Jerusalem, here comes John the Baptist.
John comes as a loner, appearing from the desert with a simple message – repentance.
Though his outward appearance was revolting and his actions were not what people of the day would call “standard”, John made history and became more famous than any of the Roman installed religious leaders including…
- or Caiaphas.
Now that we’ve heard the story of John the Baptist, how accurate are we at judging other people by the way they look or act?
If John the Baptist came to us today, we might just write him off as a “fanatic” looking for attention.
And, although there are plenty of them around, we must be careful when looking at the outside as only God knows a person’s heart.
The statement, “Beauty is only skin deep.” certainly applies when the opposite is true.
A person with 10 tattoos possibly has a better relationship with God than the man in the three-piece business suit. But, who do we believe?
Are we willing to ignore someone who is called by God just because they don’t “look or act exactly like us“?
John’s Simple Message – Repentance
What is repentance?
Well, it has two sides:
- To turn away from sin
- To turn toward God.
Plainly put, repentance is simple but effective for Christians although we have trouble with these and constantly struggle with one or the other.
In it’s most basic form, being repentant means we are truly sorry for things we have done (or didn’t do), and repetitive sin which seems to haunt us most of our lives.
The Good News?
Before getting depressed, remember the message of John the Baptist and the promise from Christ.
All God asks us to do is sincerely try to turn away – and He will help us; If we only ask and believe.
Lastly, keep in mind that living morally does not save us – only God can do that through Jesus Christ.
Love in Christ
If you have never made the commitment to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to Read John 3:16 for more information.