Read Luke 3:7-18.
You and I both know that people ignore warnings. Some people disregard signs; others use the warnings to move in the opposite direction. As John the Baptist engaged in public ministry, he issued warnings to those who came to listen to him. John started a ministry of preaching and baptism in the wilderness of the Jordan River valley. Crowds came to hear him and be baptized by him. The message John preached was not the usual positive message. He told his listeners that God’s wrath was coming on unrepentant people. John was looking for a response of repentance from those people which would produce fruit which would show a changed life.
Calls of “What should we do?” rang out from among the member of the audience. Luke gives three examples of specific groups in the crowd. People were to show compassion for those less fortunate. Tax collectors were to stop extorting money. Soldiers were not to abuse their position and live within their means. Suppose John was asked about your occupation, what might he have said?
John the Baptist was a unique and impactful preacher with a hard-hitting and powerful message. It was only natural that they began to wonder if John was actually the Messiah. It would have been an easy temptation for John to play to the crowd and their expectation. But, John knew who he was and his place in the plan. He was not the Messiah. The Messiah was going to be greater than John who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and execute judgement in which people would be brought closer to God and some would be rejected. This was reflected in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
John’s ministry was one of warning. In proclaiming Jesus’s coming, it was also a path to safety.