>”For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”
-Luke 3:8b (ESV)
In this passage, John the Baptist is making a strong point that people are not justified by their bloodline. This reasoning was used by the Jews to show that they were the people of God. However, John the Baptist makes the same point that Jesus does in John 8:39 when He is responding to this same mentality. Jesus tells the Jews in John 8 that if they were of Abraham they would be doing the same works that Abraham did. What then is the work that Jesus calls people to do? Jesus makes the answer clear enough in John 6:29: “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'” Back in Luke 3, John the Baptist commands his audience to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
This establishes a clear connection in my mind. When we believe in Christ, we repent of our sins and cast ourselves upon His mercy. This act of repentance and casting ourselves upon Christ’s mercy is not a one-time deal, we do it continually. Christ has established and upholds our new covenant with God (Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, Heb. 8:1-7) being our continual Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). Since He continues to intercede, we continue to repent (Jam. 5:16) and be transformed by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). What an incredible work our Lord has done and continues to do! May our response of humble submission show His perfection, glory, and majesty!
Let me end by circling back to the issue of bloodlines. The mentality of these Jews has not escaped our culture. There are plenty of us who find our justification in church attendance, Sunday school, charitable deeds, and financial giving. We are not justified before God by any of those things! GOD JUSTIFIES. Remember, He can justify stones if He wants to! If we do good works without Christ then we are still in danger of God’s wrath. They accomplish nothing for us. But, Christ has accomplished incredible things for us. It is through Him alone that we are justified and considered righteous before God. Do those good works because Christ has done such a great work for you and in you. Let us proclaim boldly along with the writer of this hymn, Robert Lowry:
“This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Praise to you, Jesus Christ, for making us righteous before God!