Luke 3:7 John said 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? 8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
John the Baptist was a prophet, telling God’s people what they didn’t want to hear. A key problem with the Old Testament covenant of the law was that it never produced compassion, mercy, justice. People would go through the motions of fulfilling the letter of the law, but harbor in their hearts a desire to take advantage of the vulnerable, follow after other gods, stack the deck in favor of the wealthy and well-connected, and so on. The law didn’t transform people on the inside.
“Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” (v.8)
To repent is to have a change of heart that results in a different way of thinking and acting – what John is referring to here as “fruits of repentance”. Laws don’t transform people on the inside. Repentance does. Why? Because repentance admits we cannot create inner transformation by ourselves. We need the power of God to do a work in us. In this kind of humility and dependence on God there is hope. For fruit.
I’m being tested right now (as are you too I presume). There are so many challenges right now in just about every area of life it can be overwhelming. I’m tired and weary on the inside from responding in my own meager strength. It’s not working. I’m admitting that. I need the Lord to pick me up and push me through. So this morning I’m humbling myself before the Lord. I’m asking the Lord to produce in me fruits worthy of repentance. Lord, let it be so. Amen.