John is baptising for repentance. He was calling the people to turn their lives around. To change and to come back to God. It involved their effort of course. If they were not going to be determined to change then it wouldn’t happen. But then John says something else …
“I baptize you withwater for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you withthe Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3 v 11-12)
Chaff is the outer, protective shell of a grain which needs removing as it is inedible for humans. It is then usually burnt or used for animal fodder.
This is not about burning non-believers in an unquenchable hell but about winnowing believers so that our hard self-protection is removed and burnt.
What is that self-protection?
Of course there is no excuse for any form of abuse and every one of us should protect ourselves in such situations.
But we can easily create an outer layer, a mask of protection or we build around us addiction or over working because no one is going to get to the real me.
Only Jesus can deal with the chaff and it is through the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.
After the pandemic, I don’t want to go back to:
- The big charismatic personalities who the crowds chase after. There is ‘one more powerful than I’ and we need to chase after Him.
- The ‘Jesus is my mate’ attitude. His ‘sandals I am not worthy to carry’ and so less presumption is what we need.
- The hard exterior of churches who will not bend or break to the will of God. May the winnowing fork do its work and the chaff be broken away.
I do want to see fire.
I want to see lives saturated with the Spirit of God.
I want to see passion for Jesus possessing them with an intensity of a fire.
I want to see the spirit of cold obedience kindled with an eager devotion.
I want to see the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.