Luk 3:2-3 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. (3) And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Luk 3:7-10 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8) Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. (9) Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (10) And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?”
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me John the Baptist! What a gift! A preacher who comes to us and calls us a brood of vipers, in other words, children of the devil! I bet you wouldn’t go to his church. But it is God the Holy Spirit who drives John and brings us to John to be baptized.
John is calling us to repentance. He is calling to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Repentance and baptism go together. If you repent (feel contrite, horror over your sins) and are baptized then you have the forgiveness of sins. You must believe this promise. Faith in this Word of God from John brought salvation.
This faith brought about by the promise of baptism (the forgiveness of sins) brought out the crowd and brought them closer to the Lord, so close it joined them to the Lord. Rom. 6:3ff Fear of punishment and of God’s wrath is a good thing despite what the unbelievers tell you. If you come to God terrified by your sins of eternal damnation this is a good thing. How else can we come to him initially? But the promise of forgiveness, of the death of the old self in baptism, the promise of newness of life in baptism takes away that fear and gives us true fear of God, which is hatred of sin. Prov. 8:13
But do not trust the fact that you were brought to the waters of baptism as a child or an infant or even an adult as your guarantee card, get out of hell free card. The children of Israel were circumcised and John told them not to trust in that. God could call up children for Abraham out of the stones. No, we must trust the promise made there in baptism and that faith is what is pleasing to God.
That faith brings about a repentance which is truly God pleasing. God calls forth fruit from the faith born in baptism. You cannot say you have faith and no fruit of that faith, it is impossible. So just what we supposed to do? The people asked John the same question. Do what you are supposed to do. Go to work and put in a good day’s work. Change the diapers and wash the dishes. Clean up your room and obey your teachers. Be nice to your fellow man and help them out in their time of need. Nothing particularly flashy.
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank you for calling us to repentance and rebirth in baptism. Grant us such faith that produces fruit in keeping with repentance. In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.