Bearing Fruits in keeping with Repentance (Luke 3.1-38)
You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased (38)
The LORD had declared centuries earlier, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isa 55.8). How graphically Luke illustrates this fact in the opening two verses. The word of God came not to the powerful secular or religious leaders, in their grand palaces and temple, but to John the son of a nobody in the wilderness. As Jesus would observe John, “wisdom is justified by all her children” (7.35). John proved to be a wise choice.
The word of God which John so forcefully proclaimed was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. It is hard to imagine crowds flocking to such a preacher today. Imagine people’s response to being called a brood of vipers! That the crowds did not lynch him, but repented in large numbers and regarded him as a prophet, is testimony to the work of God’s Spirit in their hearts. But not the heart of Herod the Tetrarch, which remained hardened by sin (19). True prophets have no fear of man and speak the whole counsel of God, no matter whom they might offend.
John was great in Jesus’ eyes (7.26-28), but not his own. Untying sandals was the lowliest, most demeaning task a servant could perform. So much so that in Jesus’ day no Jewish master would ask it of a Jewish servant; it was a task reserved for Gentile servants only. In saying he is not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals, John utterly debases himself before Jesus. His only concern is to prepare the world for its Saviour.
John would therefore approve of Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism, which makes no mention of him at all. The whole focus is on the actions of God the Father and Holy Spirit towards the beloved Son (whose fleshly pedigree Luke will go on to confirm, 23-38).
Luke has twice reported that Jesus enjoyed God’s favour (2.40, 52); now God voices it himself. What strength and comfort Jesus must have drawn from this in the days ahead?
What might it mean for you to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance”? (8)
Lord Jesus, I too am not worthy to be your lowliest servant; yet you came to save me from my sin and raise me up as your child. Grant that I may be willing to be put to whatever task you call me, that all I do may be done for your glory and in honour of your name, in which I pray. Amen.
Michael Hewat is currently serving as the Senior Minister at West Hamilton Community Church, New Zealand
Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash