“What should we do then?” the crowd asked…tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”…some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” Luke 3:10-14
When God convicts people they respond with the question, “what should we do?” It’s the right question. We see the same response on the day of Pentecost, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37).
Yet we find the response that John the Baptist gave was different to Peter’s reply. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”…“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,”…“Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay” (verses 11-14). Whereas Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (verse 38).
The reason for the different response is that different people are being addressed. John the Baptist was talking to Jews. People who already knew God and were his people. Throughout the Old Testament God had told them how he wanted them to live. This is summarised in “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
The people that gathered on the day of Pentecost were from many different nations. They were people who didn’t have a relationship with God. Peter calls them to repentance and baptism.
When God convicts us our response needs to be, “What shall we do?”