In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
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.”
“…repentance for the forgiveness of sins…. ” This must come first. We see our condition without God, we are made aware of our sin-nature. Those receptive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting respond with repentance, a demonstration of sorrow for the sinful condition and a desire to change. Words given to us from God through John and later Jesus. Words prophesied by prophets such as Isaiah. The Word of God is powerful and will not return to Him empty. Those coming out to John were relying on their heritage of descendancy from Abraham to keep them right with God. But they were not living the commands they had been given. They were shown the condition of their hearts, which drives their words and actions. They asked the question, What then shall we do?; How then shall we live? His answer is echoed later by Jesus: Share what you have with those who have not.
This is true today as well. When we realized our sin condition, we repent, we receive forgiveness, and we then ask the question, How then shall we live? The answer is still the same. Share what you have. This applies to knowledge as well as physical goods. The focus is outward not inward. The mind-set is toward others not toward self. A major shift that takes place when a heart is changed by God. Are we sharing what we have? Material possessions as well as scripture? Our heritage and traditions are worthless if we haven’t received the heart change that comes with repentance, forgiveness and commitment to the Word of God. When we do the Word of God becomes alive and active within us.