The king liked to listen to him. So did most people.
"Repent. Stop what you're doing. You know it's wrong, so stop it. Make a radical change from one way of life to another. Surrender to God and find forgiveness."
It's a simple message. It's not always a popular message—not when it's about you. Sometimes people want to kill the prophet who says it, like Jezebel wanting to kill Elijah. Sometimes people want to ignore the prophet who says it, like Amaziah dismissing Amos.
But people seemed to really like it when John said it.
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near … . The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matt. 3:2, 10)
It was a sensation. Everyone was talking about the prophet with the water, down by the river. Even the king. Especially the king.
There was a time, not long ago, when everyone went down to the river to hear John. Everyone: from Jerusalem, from Judea, from the whole region of the Jordan. John called the people a brood of vipers, and it just made him more popular. Crowds pressed in. "Yes!" they said. "We are a brood of vipers! What should we do?"
John told them: "If you have two shirts, give one to someone who doesn't have any shirts. Do the same thing with your food."
Tax collectors came to John and asked, "What should we do?"
"Don't collect more than you're supposed to," he told them.
Soldiers came to John and asked, "What should we do?"
He had a longer list: "Don't extort money. Don't accuse people falsely. Be content with your pay."
This was not a surprise. These ...
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