By Wayne Braudrick
“What then should we do?” the crowds were asking him.”
(Luke 3:10 HCSB)
Leviticus in 3D
John gets the attention of both crowds and religious leaders by doing the most loving thing possible: he shows people’s universal need for salvation. His basis is the Old Testament Law; in fact, John comes across as a living book of Leviticus. As I said recently in a discussion with one of our pastors, “John is like Leviticus in 3D.”
Of course, John doesn’t abandon people in their need. Luke 3:18 tells us that he preached good news to them; that is, he pointed people to Messiah Jesus, “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” That Messiah is the solution for my need and yours, as He paid the perfect sacrifice price for our sin and rose from the dead so that we who trust Him could follow Him in eternal life.
At Christmas, it is especially wonderful to share that good news. However, we mustn’t forget what God teaches us through John – people need to see their destitution first. Without recognizing that I have violated God’s Law, I cannot apprehend why Jesus came. Without understanding that I am rightly slated for judgment, I won’t ascertain my desperate need for salvation in Jesus alone.
The crowd asked John what to do was because he successfully led them to understand the reality and severity of sin. In fact, Luke 3 is fascinating snapshot of this work. The Baptizer keys in on three related arenas of sin: sharing, stealing, and coveting. Alluding to Leviticus 19, Deuteronomy 15, Exodus 20, and Isaiah 58, John exposes how each and every person is ultimately incapable of genuine generosity. We all covet and steal. We don’t naturally share sacrificially.
That truth reveals our need for rescue. Wonderfully, God meets our need in Jesus, who empowers us to truly give as He does. My prayer for us this holiday is that we will love people enough to kindly expose the truth about innate human selfishness – in a phrase, that the term “Black Friday” should be used in reference to the sootiness of every soul. Then, we can share the gospel of Jesus, who changes us into genuine givers like Himself.