Joseph decided. The magi decided. Herod decided. John decided. And when John came to make the people ready for Jesus, he said all must decide.
Imagine John the Baptist is preaching to you. Repent, he says! Stop living however you please and embrace God’s true way of life! Turn from your selfishness and your sins, which will destroy you, and turn to God, who loves you and wants to save you! Change your mind about the ways and wiles of the world, and open your heart to the kingdom of heaven! Can you answer, “Sir, I have repented and confessed my sins”? Can you say, “I have been baptized as a sign of my repentance”? Can you say, “I now bear good fruit for my God”?
Friends, John told all to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Some did. They changed their minds and confessed that they were living in rebellion to the King and the good laws He had made. As they changed their minds, they changed their ways and strove to live by His Word. Others did not repent, or only pretended to. John was particularly hard on the pretenders. He said that unless they produced fruit “in keeping with repentance,” they would not escape “the wrath to come.” Jesus would sort them out. In the end, “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”