John’s proclamation of the Messiah includes both salvation and judgement.
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
It is easier, and more comforting, to focus on the redemptive act of the Messiah. But from the words of His forerunner, we see the concept of unquenchable fire. The fire of judgment that will consume the chaff.
Christ the King who laid down His life for His people, will also be Judge of the world.
While John has been baptising with water, and helping people come to repentance and a realisation of their unworthiness, Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
All of us were destined for the fire, consigned to the flames for being unfruitful, for not being wheat. Those who believe in Jesus will have the Spirit fill them and produce fruit. But those who reject Jesus and the presence of His Spirit continue on their way to the fire.
This is quite sobering. As we think of all those around us who are continuing on their way without God and thus to the unquenchable fire.
We have been wonderfully saved from judgment, saved from the fire. Let the only fire that burns within us now be a desire to spread the kingdom of Jesus so that others may be gathered up as wheat and escape the flames.
Head: Luke has other references to the fire of judgment Luke 3:9, 16:24. Have a look at these and see how they relate to today’s reading
Heart: What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart so that you can bear fruit?
Hands: In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man realises too late to tell his family and about the unquenchable fire. Who do you know whom you could tell about how Jesus saves from the fire?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for saving me from the flames of judgement. May I always remember where I was heading before I knew you and may that spur me on to tell others about you. Amen.
A song to listen to: Saved My Soul
Nicole Davenport- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina