Luke 3  In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,  during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.  And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
 He said therefore 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?  Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.  Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?”  And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”  Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”  And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”  Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
Luke 3:10-14 – John the Baptist has been preaching to the people who have come to him and he has held nothing back. He calls them a brood of vipers, to repent, not to trust their religious or genetic back ground and told them that the time was pressing and that they were in danger of being thrown into the fire to be burned. One did not hear John the Baptist preach and have to ask what he was talking about. He was very plain, very blunt, and very to the point. And he got results.
The people in Luke 3 whom John is preaching to seem to have had the message get through to them and so they call out to John what they must do. So he tells them.
1) Those of who have two coats should give one to the poor.
2) Tax collectors should only collect what they are authorized to collect. (The common practice was for tax collectors to overcharge so that hey would have extra for themselves.)
3) Soldiers are told not to extort money from people and to be content with their wages.
Everything John tells them has to do with money or possessions and the treatment of the less fortunate. We could word it this way for our situations today:
1) Do not live extravagantly just because you can. Do you need two cars? Do you need all the shoes and coats and change of clothes that you have? Is it really necessary to have a different outfit for every work day for two weeks? Do you need to eat out as often as you do? Do you need all the cable stations you subscribe to and the dish on the side of your house? Do you need all the books you buy? Could you not, rather than buy such things for yourself, spend the money on others? Do you not have enough stuff that you could give much of it to the poor and still have sufficient for yourself?
2) Do not profit your self at the expense of others. Just because you can get ahead by treading on someone else does not mean that you should. Be willing to have your needs met and if getting more means that someone else will get less, just do not do it. Buy fair trade when you can. Don’t cut people off to get ahead in a line or in traffic. Excise the “me first” out of yourself. Do not climb up the ladder if it means that someone else must be one of the rungs.
3) Be content. If we have food and clothing that is enough. We hardly believe that comment except that it is from the Bible (I Timothy 6:8). We live in a culture that thrives on discontentment. The goal of advertising is to make you discontent with what you have and desirous of more. Do you really need the latest version of the i- phone? Do you really need that latest app? Does your income allow you to pay your bills, feed and clothe your family, keep a roof over your head and enjoy a few recreations? Then what are you griping about?
It is a very striking thing that the three things John mentions all have to do with using our resources for the sake of those who have less, not cheating others, and being content. And he is the one whose job is to prepare the way for Christ.
When Christ comes and people are renewed in Him then people will be able to live, from their hearts, in the way that John the Baptist called his listeners to live. Show real faith in Jesus Christ in how you spend your expendable money on the poor. Show it in honouring others above yourself. Show it in being content.
This will be a real demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit.