DISRUPTING RELIGION
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
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“And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan.” MARK 1:4-5

John the Baptist was preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His audience did not consist of Gentiles, who knew very little about God, but rather the religious people of Israel who already had God’s laws, the prophets, the temple and the entire religious system. In the uncultivated, uninhabited region of Judea, John urged God’s people to repent of their sin so they would be ready to receive the Messiah.

What John means by repentance is expressed in more detail where he responds to questions asked of him by the people. Luke 3:11-14 says,” John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’ Even tax collectors came to be baptised. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’ ‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.’” John’s answers to the crowd center on possessions, position and power. You have an abundance; share with others. You have positions in commerce; do not collect any more than required, and to those in government – guard against corruption. Do not extort or accuse people falsely and be content with what you have.

The reason John is delivering a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins is because the Israelites had God’s Word, but their everyday lives did not convey what God says in His Word. A good question to ask ourselves is: Does my life embody God’s ways or simply a knowledge of His Word? As God’s people, the Israelites should have been the most astute to what God was doing, because they had the Scriptures and studied them all their lives. The Pharisees, Scribes and temple elite knew the Word of God, yet they rejected John’s baptism of repentance.

When Jesus comes on the scene, He totally disrupts religion, turning the world upside down with a radical new message of “Come to Me, Abide in Me”. God sent John the Baptist ahead to pave the way for Jesus, so that the Israelites would repent of their sin. This would clear the decks of sin, enabling them to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus can do by the indwelling of His Spirit. God’s desire is that our hearts will always be repentant enough to allow His Word to seek more of Him, to turn from sin and live in utter dependence upon Christ so that the Word of God becomes increasingly embodied in the way we live.

PRAYER: Dear God, search my ways, and reveal to me what is contrary to Your Word. Help me to overcome and to live out Your Word in every area of my life. Thank You, Lord.


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