John the Baptist was a powerful preacher. He called the people to repent; to turn back to God and change their lives. John’s preaching hit home, and the people asked him ‘What must we do?’ In response, John challenged them. In the Roman Empire, it was taken for granted that tax collectors would use their position to line their own pockets, and that soldiers would bully and intimidate the people. But John called on them to make a change. He challenged the people also to share their possessions. If they had enough – food or clothes – they should share with those who had nothing. John’s preaching touched the hearts of the people, because he was a man of faith and integrity. He did not seek glory for himself, but instead told them clearly that someone greater was coming after him; Jesus, the Son of God.
The message of John the Baptist is a simple and practical one. He calls us to turn back to God, and reminds us that faith has to be more than words; it has to be expressed in care for our neighbours. The coming of the Lord Jesus at Christmas is Good News for everyone, and John calls us to be Good News for one another.