Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Most of us who are beyond a certain level of maturity have faced a problem of this type. There’s a mess that needs to be cleaned up. It might be physical, mental, emotional, relational, you name it. But it’s a mess. It isn’t going to go away. It might get worse if it isn’t addressed. And we hate to approach it because we fully expect it will get worse before it gets better.
In Luke chapter three the people have heard John’s preaching about righteousness and the kingdom of God. They were looking forward to God’s kingdom. Won’t it be great? He’s going to usher in peace and prosperity. But John compares the coming one, who is greater than John, to a man with a threshing floor, a farmer. What’s the farmer going to do? He’s going to take care of his harvest. It provides food for the coming year. It provides a product to sell and buy other needed things. It provides seed for planting in the future. This is a sign of prosperity. All will be well, everything will be taken care of.
What does the farmer do in verse 17? He separates the grain from all the other parts, which he considers useless. In this arid climate, the chaff and stalks won’t be of much use for composting, since there isn’t really enough water. The farmer doesn’t have the mechanical devices to spread leftovers from grain processing onto the field and plow it in again. But he does have a big pile of husks, straw, and the flammable, even explosive dust that accompanies them. Should he leave this in his barn? We think not. He sweeps it up and sets it on fire, when he wants to, where he wants to, so as to prevent it from causing any harm. It’s a mess, a big mess. But he needs to take care of it or he risks losing everything.
John the Baptist says that Jesus is the one coming to baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire. With the comparison to the farmer, our prayer is that we will be baptized by the Holy Spirit and not by fire. The elements of this world which are not pleasing to God are destined to be burned up. But those who turn to God in repentance, who belong in God’s kingdom by grace through faith, those are baptized in the Holy Spirit. They are washed. They are redeemed. They will be kept in the storehouse, not burned in the rubbish heap.
We don’t always know our destiny as those who have turned to the Lord. Will we provide food for others? Resources? Future generations? We have no idea. But the Lord, whose sandal we are not worthy to unstrap to wash his feet, has welcomed us into his kingdom and will use us for good. This is the hope of the Christian in this world. And in the future? We know that God has promised an everlasting kingdom, where his people will dwell with him. He’s the one who is cleaning up the mess of this world so as to protect it from the danger of the worthless chaff. Our response should be similar to that of God the Father. He is “well pleased” with the Son (v. 22). May we also be well pleased with the work of God in Christ.
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