Today's Reading: Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3
To read the gospels side by side, we get a glimpse of the personalities and the points of view of the different authors. Matthew and Luke follow much the same path, Luke with a little more attention to Jesus compassion, but Mark is on fast forward. Jesus hits the ground immediately running and the people are all amazed--amazed a lot!
John the Baptist is preaching, and so is Jesus. In fact, Jesus states that his purpose is to preach. Many want miracles and healings. Jesus wants to talk about the kingdom of God and about his Father.
I am fascinated, though, by the direct preaching method of John. I don't know if he would "make it" in our local American churches with his directness! Imagine calling the leaders of the status quo a "brood of vipers!" No wonder he didn't have a long pastorate. His message was a constant and continual message: Repent and believe.
It interests me that each group of believers is not "assigned" the same spiritual discipline. One group is told to share food and clothing, another is told to be fair, still another is exhorted to not abuse their power. John speaks directly and clearly to each one who comes to him for spiritual direction. And the mode of repentance is different for each one.
This leads me to ask, "What should I do?" Where does my life need to turn like a sunflower toward the new sunshine of the kingdom? Where is my repentance? Where is the fruit? What speaks to the core of my spiritual need?
Some of us are called to share clothing and food; minister to the basic needs of another because in doing so, we will realize the power and bondage of the scarcity we feel for ourselves is broken only when we open our hands to share.
Others of us need to stay within the boundaries of our own calling and not extort from others. We need to recognize that we are not above our brothers and sisters; they are not instruments to be used for our own pleasure or gluttonous needs.
And still other of us in authority need to guard ourselves from ourselves. We need to use power to help others and not to abuse them.
Repent and believe.
That's a tall order for one sermon.
How will John's sermon change me today?