Therefore produce fruits that are consistent with repentance
Luke 3:1-22 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“The voice of one
calling out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight! 5 Every ravine will be filled, And every mountain and hill will be lowered; The crooked will become straight, And the rough roads smooth; 6 And all flesh will see the salvation of God!’”
7 So he was saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore produce fruits that are consistent with repentance, and do not start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children for Abraham. 9 But indeed the axe is already being laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what are we to do?” 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The one who has two tunics is to share with the one who has none; and the one who has food is to do likewise.” 12 Now even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what are we to do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” 14 And soldiers also were questioning him, saying, “What are we to do, we as well?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone, nor harass anyone, and be content with your wages.”
15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and they all were thinking carefully in their hearts about John, whether he himself perhaps was the Christ, 16 John responded to them all, saying, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but He is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the straps of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
18 So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people. 19 But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him regarding Herodias, his brother’s wife, and regarding all the evil things which Herod had done, 20 Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.”
In Matthew 4:17, when Jesus began His earthly ministry, it says: From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In John 15:8 He says: “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” In today’s text John said: “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore produce fruits that are consistent with repentance, and do not start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children for Abraham. But indeed the axe is already being laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Before we can bear fruit, we must repent. The fruit we bear after repentance is the evidence that we are His disciples. What we do is not of value to the kingdom of God, if it is not consistent with repentance. In Matthew 7:22-24 Jesus says: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Those who say they are followers of Christ, but bear the fruit of lawlessness, embracing the immorality of our culture, will not be known as being in Christ. In Luke 9:26 Jesus says: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels.”
The text says: Now while the people were in a state of expectation and they all were thinking carefully in their hearts about John, whether he himself perhaps was the Christ, John responded to them all, saying, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but He is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the straps of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Many people think that because Jesus came as an expression of God’s love, that He would love and embrace our sin. In Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus says: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.” The world divides people in many ways, by the color of skin, by ethnicity, by gender, by wealth and social standing, by health choices. Jesus came to divide only according to one standard, whether or not they have repented and believed that He is the Christ. It is not Jesus, nor those who follow Him that hate and divide the world in terms of faith, but rather it is those who disbelieve. In John 15:18-25 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they followed My word, they will follow yours also. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. The one who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But this has happened so that the word that is written in their Law will be fulfilled: ‘They hated Me for no reason.’”
Indeed, the time will come when Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff; good from evil, those who have borne fruit consistent with repentance from those who have borne fruit of lawlessness. 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. God’s grace toward us is not revealed in that He chooses to embrace our sin. His grace is revealed in that we still have time to repent of our sin. Jesus still says: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.