December 14, 2017
READ: Luke 3:1-16
Someone is coming soon who is . . . so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (v.16).
A gospel song by Mahalia Jackson expresses that without God, we can’t do anything, and that we must depend on Jesus. We might nod at the lyrics and sing along, but perhaps we could take a moment to think about how much we really do live out our faith in this wholehearted way. Do we depend on Jesus fully, rather than on the trappings of religion or tradition? Do we know in both our head and our heart that our sins are forgiven?
As we consider who or what we depend on, we can learn from John the Baptist. Exploding onto the scene in the manner of Old Testament prophets, he called people to repentance to receive forgiveness of sins. Quoting the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3-5), he declared that it was time for the people to prepare for the coming of the Lord, preparing a path for His triumphant entry as king (Luke 3:4-5).
His message struck at the hearts of those assembled, who asked what they should do (v.10). His answers were practical and tailored to the individual—share one’s belongings, don’t cheat, don’t wield power unnecessarily (vv.11-14)—each pointing to the calling to love one’s neighbour. But when the people started to wonder if John could be the Messiah, he quickly pointed to the coming of Jesus, who would baptise them “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (v.16).
John’s words point to the reality that the power to live transformed lives is only possible through our baptism in Christ. When we repent, He washes us clean from our wrongdoing and fills us with His Spirit. We can then respond with gratitude, for we are set free—no longer bound by shame over our sins. We can love God and our neighbour through Jesus’ strength and love as we walk with Him day by day. He provides what we need to prepare for His return!
—Amy Boucher Pye
365-day plan: 2 Timothy 3:1-17
To see a transformed people in action, read Acts 2:42-47, which tells of the early church after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
How can you depend more fully on Jesus to make you more like Him? How do the words of John the Baptist challenge you to prepare for His return?