15 The people were waiting. They were expecting something. They were all wondering in their hearts if John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I am will come. I’m not good enough to untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His pitchfork is in his hand to toss the straw away from his threshing floor. He will gather the wheat into his barn. But he will burn up the husks with fire that can’t be put out.” 18 John said many other things to warn the people. He also announced the good news to them. 19 But John found fault with Herod, the ruler of Galilee, because of his marriage to Herodias. She was the wife of Herod’s brother. John also spoke strongly to Herod about all the other evil things he had done. 20 So Herod locked John up in prison. Herod added this sin to all his others.
John had been baptising people with water and teaching repentance and due to the conviction he was bring amongst the crowds they wonder if he is the Messiah. John sets them straight and emphatically says NO. Then he goes on to give them a prophetic picture of the character of the Messiah. He tells of the Holy Spirit & fire to be given within us and also the judgement of hearts and lives with fire. Luke then rounds out John’s life as a preacher of righteousness with his imprisonment by Herod.
Part of the ‘Good News’ of Jesus is his judgement and here we have the picture of His fire as both a purifier (good) and destroyer (bad), and I must admit I don’t often think about the destroyer aspect much but it is equally true. I determined long ago that His fire was to be the purifier of my life but there are many in my world that the fire of Jesus will horrifically be their destroyer. This passage has given me a wake-up call.
Father, thank you for the wake-up call to remember that the fire of Jesus, while I may welcome it, will be an eternal disaster for many I know who have not made Jesus their Lord. I ask for courage to speak more boldly to them and to pray more often for them as it is your heart that ‘none should perish’; make it mine also.
Written by Suzie Hodgson