"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." Luke 3:2-9
In "Twelve Ordinary Men" by John McArthur, I remember reading about how John the Baptist was confronting, and Jesus was merciful. It seems they were the perfect balance of judgement and mercy. This got me thinking about different personalities and different "leanings" that God has placed in His people. We know that God creates each of us for His specific purposes, and that it is He that "leans" us, I'm in awe at His wisdom once again.
John came to confront. He was to pave the way for Jesus. He was calling to repentance so that mercy could be poured out. Mountains of pride needed to be brought down, and valleys of despair needed to be filled in with love. Scripture tells us that John came in the spirit of Elijah. Remember that Elijah was "confronting" too. He was confronting the evil in King Ahab, and Jezebel. He also confronted all the prophets of Baal. Now John comes, and here he is confronting the pharisees (the religious folk who thought they "had it in the bag" because they were descendants of Abraham) with what is really in their hearts. Something has to be broken before it can be fixed. Our hearts. John came as the "breaker" and Jesus came as the "healer". What wondrous wisdom!
In the account of John, in Luke 3, John's life ended because he confronted Herod and his mistress regarding their sin. He had accomplished what God had prepared him for. His purpose was not glamorous. What he ate were not delicacies (not in my book at least!:-0) and what he wore were not the fashions of the day...but...he did what he was called to do. He was faithful to his calling. No matter what. He was set apart, and had a one-track mind. God.
Scripture tells us that the law was given to lead us to the Savior. It was a mirror to show us that we do not "have it in the bag"; we are sinful. We need a Savior. Without repentance and mercy, if we even commit one sin, we are doomed to eternity without God. Without Good. Without Beauty. Without Music. Without Joy. Without Love. Without Light. Without Life. Without Provision. Without Peace. Without Kindness. Without Gentleness....the list is endless. Only with God do we experience these things.
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more...Romans 5:20
Grace. When we get what we don't deserve. When we don't get what we deserve. Jesus' gift-free, we can't earn it by being good, it is simply appropriated by faith.
Our awareness of sin must come before we receive the gift of salvation. Mercy triumphs over judgement, but judgement must come first. The law was given for this reason. Just like the messiah wouldn't come until Elijah came, so forgiveness doesn't come without repentance.
Oh Lord, thank you that you fulfill your purpose for each of your children. Thank you that you create through us, that you live through us. May we be found faithful to our calling, and may we honor one another. Help us to value one another even when our ways differ. Help us to love one another freely and unconditionally. Thank you for the law and for mercy and grace. Thank you that you didn't leave us in our sin, but made a way back home. In Jesus' name, Amen.