Read Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18
John Preached Repentance
Can one be a true follower of something without actually following what is required? It is a contradiction to think that you can be a follower of God without actually following what God commands, is it not? Thus, John preached a message of repentance and obedience, specifically “a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,” for those who desired to truly follow God. Those who refused to repent and be immersed would not be granted forgiveness. While Christian baptism looks back to the blood shed on the cross and John’s baptism looked forward to Christ’s sacrifice, the fact remains that both had the same purpose: “the remission of sins.” Without the baptism commanded by God today, one cannot be saved.
And yet, there is more than just submission to baptism involved in Christianity, just as there was more involved when John preached. Repentance was and still is required. A change of life. Repentance requires a purge of sinful behaviors, replacing that old way of life with a dedicated service to God. Paul commended the church in Thessalonica because they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). That is repentance!
John preached repentance to the multitudes, telling them that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). It was near, almost here, when John preached; it came in power on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2.
While he preached repentance in general to everyone, Luke also records a specific message for two particular groups of people. John the Immerser told the tax collectors to practice fairness in their trade: “Collect no more than what is appointed for you” (Luke 3:13). To the soldiers, he told them to exercise restraint and truthfulness in their occupation, and contentment with their compensation: “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).
You may not have to leave your occupation to follow Jesus, but you may need to change the way you behave in your occupation. Consider the activities in which you are involved and ask if they violate Scriptural principles. If they do, repent, changing the behavior that needs to be changed!