The Preaching of John the Baptist (Luke 3:7-14)

The Preaching of John the Baptist (Luke 3:7-14)


  • Jesus’ birth and childhood (12y/o remained in the temple after Passover).
  • Ch.3 transitions to John’s ministry during a time of political corruption and religious compromise. He prepares the way of the Messiah.

Read Luke 3:7-14

  • John directs his preaching to individuals with spiritual insight (2). He warns the whole crowd, but zeroes in on a portion of them specifically.
  • Their questions show a level of conviction that leads them to ask, what repentance looks like in their case.
  • Repentance requires a change of heart.
    1. The Call to Repentance (7-9)
    2. The Shape of Repentance (10-14)

The Call to Repentance (7-9)

  • 7 “Vipers”, wilderness snakes that John would have been familiar with, probably an allusion to Isaiah 59:5-8. Rather than preparing the way of the Lord (Isa. 40:3), the vipers sought to destroy God’s work.
  • They are fleeing judgment like a snake flees fire. John questions the sincerity of the crowd, which Matthew tells us included Pharisees and Sadducees. So John was rebuking individuals but warning everyone.
  • 8 Bearing fruit that is fitting of a change of heart. The crowd of Israelites presumed upon God’s mercy because of their heritage.
  • How many people claim Christianity because it was the faith of their parents?
  • 9 This may be their last opportunity to repent. Judgment is imminent. The root needs one final blow from the axe. “Fire” = judgment (16-17).
  • Isa. 10:33-11:5 combine judgment with Messiah’s coming. Christ’s coming ushered in a time of hardening for Israel, while the Gentiles were grafted in.
  • But this can also apply for broadly to the prevalence of hypocrisy within the church. God is never fooled.

Calvin We are prone to offer pretended worship.

  • But baptism that is never accompanied by repentance is fruitless. This is a reminder to improve our baptism (WCF).
  • Turning to God changes the direction of our lives. Share your testimonies often.

What does repentance look like?

The Shape of Repentance (10-14)

  • Each group was convicted by their sin.: a) crowd, b) tax collectors, and c) soldiers.
  1. Crowd (10-11)
    • Anyone with extra clothing/food should share with those in need. Note: This is voluntary! It’s not a government redistribution program.
    • This is the same call for compassion that echoes the Old Testament prophets. Radical compassion was evident in Acts 4:34-37.

Calvin Let the necessity of our brethren affect us powerfully, and let the bounty of God, which is in our hands, stimulate us to acts of kindness and generosity.

  • Repentance leads to generosity. Do you agree that “It is more blessed to give than to receive?” (Acts 20:35).
  1. Tax Collectors (12-13)
    • Viewed with disdain. Often paired with “sinners”. Agents of Rome, whose salary was made on top of the tax they collected. Considered traitors, cheats.
    • Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, showed his repentance by restoring fourfold anyone he defrauded.
    • Note: they weren’t asked to quit.
    • Repentance leads to honesty.
  2. Soldiers (14)
    • Likely, Herod’s soldiers (local peacekeepers) who used their power to extort money with threats and lies.
    • Note: they weren’t asked to quit, but to be content with their wages.
    • Repentance leads to integrity and contentment.

All of us are called to repentance and none of us were saved apart from some change of heart.


  • What has repentance looked like in your life? Are you more generous and honest? Do you deal justly with people?
  • None of those things can atone for your sin. Becoming more honest, generous, and just doesn’t bring you peace with God. That was achieved entirely by Christ alone, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
  • However, when the Holy Spirit regenerates a person he changes them. Sinful desires weaken, while righteous desires increase.
  • So an increasing generosity, honesty, and desire for justice are strong indicators that God has done a work in your heart.