If you haven’t thought about the answer lately, maybe the first month of a new year is a good time.
“What do you do” is quite like “who are you” but feels safer to ask for some reason, more focused, specific, defined. Asking “who are you,” depending on the context, can either sound defensive or overly familiar. It’s the question on people’s minds as John the Baptizer comes out of the wilderness at blockbuster force. Instead of answering “who are you, the Messiah?” John tells them what he’s doing. He’s quite clear about his role. He is there to baptize with water and shake people awake for who will come next, to prepare those who hear him for forgiveness and repentance. (John 3: 1-22).
Those hearing John then asked him, “what should we do?” His answer? Share freely, take only your fair share, don’t misuse your power. As I read these words, I hear John asking me, “what do you do?”
I love the way this tumultuous passage (brood of vipers, ax at the root, prison) begins with John taking a run at the wall of authorities (Tiberius, Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas, Caiaphas) and ends with Jesus slipping into the river as part of the crowd as we hear heaven’s voice tell Jesus who he is, “you are my son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.” The rest of the story Luke tells is about what Jesus does.
The way is prepared for us to meet Christ. The season of fruit bearing is upon us (Luke 3: 8). In a time when the question, "what can we do" is too often net with a shrug of the shoulders and an offhanded, "what are ya gonna do," what will we do? Who will we be? What will we hear the heavenly voice say to us?