7 約翰對那出來要受他洗的眾人說：「毒蛇的種類！誰指示你們逃避將來的忿怒呢？ 8 你們要結出果子來，與悔改的心相稱。不要自己心裏說：『有亞伯拉罕為我們的祖宗。』我告訴你們， 神能從這些石頭中，給亞伯拉罕興起子孫來。 9 現在斧子已經放在樹根上，凡不結好果子的樹就砍下來，丟在火裏。」 10 眾人問他說：「這樣，我們當做甚麼呢？」 11 約翰回答說：「有兩件衣裳的，就分給那沒有的；有食物的，也當這樣行。」 12 又有稅吏來要受洗，問他說：「夫子，我們當做甚麼呢？」 13 約翰說：「除了例定的數目，不要多取。」 14 又有兵丁問他說：「我們當做甚麼呢？」約翰說：「不要以強暴待人，也不要訛詐人，自己有錢糧就當知足。」15百姓指望基督來的時候，人都心裡猜疑，或者約翰是基督。
7John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10“What should we do then?” the crowd asked. 11John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” 12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” 15The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.
- John was not a smooth, comfortable preacher. He was blunt and confrontational. He preached the message of coming wrath of God and “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. This wasn’t an easy message to take, but people kept coming to hear him and even wondering if John might be the Christ (v15).
- Perhaps when we hear messages such as John’s, our masks and pretenses are stripped away, and we are forced not only to face our need – but are given hope in God’s word. And only when we face guilt do we seek forgiveness, and find the new life in our Saviour Jesus.
- Am I in the habit of “direction change” (repentance) in my daily life? What has the Holy Spirit been speaking to me lately on certain wrong “directions”?
- Take a moment to think about it. Then pray for God’s forgiveness. Pray also for the Holy Spirit to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”(Matt 6:13)
John baptized the people who repented of their sins. This was how John said they could prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Discuss why we are baptized today to show our belief in Jesus. Ask parents and members of the family who have been baptised to share their decision and their experiences of baptism. Then give thanks for God’s salvation, for God’s forgiveness of your sins and for baptism to show your belief in Jesus.