change, crowds, establishment, extortion, food, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, kingdom, Kingdom of God, lawyers, love, mind, money, Pharisees, pious, prostitutes, religion, repentance, righteousness, Saducees, scribes, sinners, soldiers, tax collectors, teachers, teachers of the law, tunics, wages, works
Luke 3:10-11 ESV
And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
A lot of people think that faith means “believing in Jesus.” That’s part of it, but there is so much more! Faith works through love (Galatians 5:6) and faith without works is dead:
James 2:14-18 ESV
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
The faithful are not content to hoard the blessing of God. Are you a person of faith?
Luke 3:12-13 ESV
Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”
Even the hated tax collectors listened to John. The Jews despised tax collectors, not only because they worked for the Roman occupiers, but because they were notorious for extorting money to line their own pockets. Even so, they received John’s message of repentance.
By and large, the pious religious establishment–the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and teachers of the law–did not accept John’s message or repentance.
They serve as an example for us of how not to live. Unless we stop sinning entirely, we are never too good to repent. We are all works in progress.
Later, Jesus told the Pharisees, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him” (Matthew 21:31-32, ESV).
Luke 3:14 ESV
Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
Even the most hated soldiers of Rome followed John. The Jews hated their Roman masters, and the Roman soldiers hated them.
Many soldiers no more wanted to be stationed in this backwater region of the empire than the Jews wanted them there. Many soldiers used abused their authority by pushing the locals around, threatening them and taking their money.
John welcomed even these heathen men of violence, but told them to repent. Even they could turn and receive forgiveness from God!
What then shall we do?
Repent and believe the gospel, and bear fruits in keeping with repentance.