7John 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? 8Bear 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. 9Even 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.” 10And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” (Luke 3:7-14, NRSV)
As I read this text I hear law. Law and very little gospel, but gospel is there.
It seems like we have to do the works all on our own to get it right, but is that really what John is saying?
John is saying you can not rely on being related to anyone or that you can trace your lineage back to Abraham. Everyone can do that actually…
What John tells those who ask what they can do is, treat everyone as you want to be treated. Do not take more than you should, do not extort money from people.
Treat others as you want to be treated. That is not doing anything more than we really should do.