December 12

Luke 3:15-18

“So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.” vs. 18

After recounting John’s vivid description of the brood of vipers and the burning of chaff Luke concludes by calling John’s message “good news” for the people. Now some might wonder how such harsh language could be good news for anyone, mostly because religious folks have gotten used to a less costly notion of grace. We’ve been so anxious to get to forgiveness and mercy that the idea of repentance and cleansing has almost been forgotten. John the Baptist knew better than that and presented the whole package in his preaching by the Jordan–and it’s that whole package that Luke labelled “good news.” We’re only kidding ourselves if we imagine that our life in Christ won’t involve some “come to John” moments, times when we’re confronted with our wayward ways and urged to get down in the water and die. Jesus himself came down to the river, listened to John, and submitted to his baptism. It was in that whole process that he was engaged by the Spirit and called into mission–and when he started preaching the message was the same as John’s, “Repent and believe in the good news.” For too long many have discounted the Baptist and his message–preachers have even joked about his harshness. That certainly wasn’t Luke’s intention. From his study and reading he had concluded that John was a purveyor of good news, and his conclusion deserves our attention.

Thought for the Day: What’s a “come to John” moment?

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