SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the region around the Jordan River, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
4 As it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one shouting in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley will be filled,
and every mountain and hill will be brought low,
and the crooked will be made straight,
and the rough ways will be made smooth,
6 and all humanity will see the salvation of God.’”
7 So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 So the crowds were asking him, “What then should we do?” 11 John answered them, “The person who has two tunics must share with the person who has none, and the person who has food must do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He told them, “Collect no more than you are required to.” 14 Then some soldiers also asked him, “And as for us – what should we do?” He told them, “Take money from no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your pay.”
15 While the people were filled with anticipation and they all wondered whether perhaps John could be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I am is coming – I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clean out his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire.”
18 And in this way, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed good news to the people. 19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil deeds that he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked up John in prison.