v. 2 "God chose to speak through a loner John the Baptist. How often people judge others by the superficial standards of power, wealth, and beauty, and miss the truly great people through whom God works. Greatness is not measured by what you have, but by your faith in God." NIV Notes
v. 3 John went into all areas around the Jordan preaching a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sin. "We can't just say we believe and then live any way we choose. Neither can we simply live a morally correct live without a personal relationship with God because that can not bring forgiveness of sin." NIV Notes I believe that when you come to God broken and feeling worthless He takes us with gentle hands and He does not expect us to change overnight. He is patient and kind. You start to desire to change and you want to do it to get to know Him more.
v. 6 Jesus came for ALL people. The banquet is open to all, no one is excluded. Some feel like outsiders and that they would never fit in to the party by the way they look or what they think. Our fellow men and women are the ones who choose to exclude but thankfully Jesus did not appoint us to be His judges.
v. 7-14 The people came to be baptized by John and he responded to them "You brood of vipers..." Things sometimes seem harsh but due to the seriousness of the situation, taking things lightly just won't due. v. 9 "The ax 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." They seemed to rely on the fact that their salvation was due to being Abraham's descendants. You can not rely on your family history or your good works. God has to have your heart and for you to truly know Him. The religious leaders were probably boiling over when they heard what John had to say. They probably would not have given any hope to those they deemed unworthy.
Several people asked John what they needed to do.
John told the following people what to do:
the well off - share what you have to those in need
tax collector - whatever your job, do it well and with fairness
roman soldier - do not hold your power over the people, be content with what you earn
Tax collectors were hated during that time period. Many took extra off the top of what they collected to live well for themselves and the people did not trust them. The roman soldiers were there to keep order for Rome and I bet many took advantage of whatever they wanted.
v. 15-16 Many thought that John was the Christ. John made sure to point out that he would not be worthy of untying Jesus's shoes. So many people put church leaders or entertainers up higher than they should go so that when they fail they come crashing down. We are not supposed to elevate God's messengers or the worldly powerful, just God Himself.
v. 21 Jesus being baptized might confuse some since He was without sin. Jesus was here for us and to show us what to do, how to act, and what it is to give up a life for others.
What changes can you make in sharing your wealth, doing your work with integrity, and being content in your life?
Do you ask for forgiveness yet still repeat the behavior that you know is not good for you? God values reformation above ritual. "Turning from sin must be tied to action" NIV Notes