Thursday, April 26, 2018

Real Repentance

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked (Luke 3:10).

Those who heard John’s message were concerned lest they be among the trees God was going to cut down. In Luke 3:10–14 three groups of people asked him what they should do. What kinds of “actions” were needed to make their repentance real? What should their new lives be like? What was it going to mean to live in the coming kingdom?

The prophet’s first response was to the crowd in general: “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same” (v. 11). Like the prophets of the Old Testament, whose heir he was, John showed a concern for love and a spirit of sacrifice. Those who had more than they needed were to be moved with compassion for those who were poor.

The second group that approached him were “publicans” or tax collectors. They were considered the worst kind of sinners. The Jewish people were under the oppressive tax burden of Rome. The faithful Jew not only paid the exorbitant Roman taxes but also paid his tithes to God. Local “tax farmers” were appointed by Rome to collect taxes, and these people were paid a percentage of what they collected. Thus, many of these people collected more than they were required to raise and pocketed the difference. No wonder these people were hated! They were regarded as traitors to their own people.

John did not tell them to quit their jobs, because this would only make room for other corrupt men to take their places. He told them to remain in office, but not to “collect any more than you are required to” (v. 13).

Finally, some Gentile soldiers asked John, “And what should we do?” Was the kingdom for them as well? Certainly, said John. These soldiers were underpaid and were tempted to coerce money from poor Jews. So John told them, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay” (v. 14).

Now it’s your turn! What question do you have for the prophet? What should you do to make your repentance and position in the kingdom real? Is there anyone that you are exploiting, even without thinking about it? Is there anyone who needs your help? Take stock today, because the King is coming!