And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
(Luke 3:10-11 ESV)
Zechariah and Elizabeth’s miracle son established the call to repentance in simple and yet radical ways.
Mountains made low, valleys raised and crooked paths straightened was not purely about a change in the physical environment. The preparation for the Lord was expressed in John’s challenge to the ‘brood of vipers’ that consisted of the crowd who were intrigued by his message.
The simplicity and radical nature of the call resonates today. Greed and selfishness is so well entrenched in the human psyche that it’s often reinforced by advertising that appeals to the base aspects of the human condition not just looking for self-preservation but focusing solely on the comfort of ‘number one’ to the neglect of those suffering around us.
Be in no doubt, the call to the crowd, the tax collectors and soldiers to implement fairness and kindness in their dealings with others bucked the accepted norm of institutional corruption and deprivation in the society at the time. In as much as some may think we live in a better time now and we have ‘progressed’ as a civilisation, there are still clear indications that people are cheated and swindled of justice and fairness whether in certain employment contracts or extortionate prices, whilst also turning a blind eye to the prominent set of people in desperate need of the essentials.
The arrival of the Messiah and His successful mission did not do away with the fundamental call to individual and social repentance. As we shall see, the Messiah’s mission would go on to expand that call to all.
As we await the return of the Messiah, so He is expecting those who follow Him to continue to prepare the way in these simple, yet radical ways.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden