Tuesday after the Second Sunday after Christmas
Scripture: St. Luke 3:15-20 (NKJV)
15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, 16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.
When Christ arrives He will separate the wheat from the chaff. The wheat are those who are penitent and believing the Gospel. The chaff are those who reject repentance, choosing to remain in their sins. Herod serves as an example of chaff. He is fruitless, lacking the fruits of repentance because he has no repentance. He bristles at John’s rebuke. He chooses to remain in his sins and then begins to pile more sin upon himself by imprisoning John and beheading him.
Opposite of Herod are those who receive John’s preaching of repentance and regeneration which the Holy Ghost works in that baptism. Those who hear the message of repentance and baptism and believe are fruitful wheat. Though they may be threshed in this life by trials and tribulations, they are precious to the Lord of the Harvest and He will prosper them by gathering them into His storehouse on the Last Day. “The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).
The imagery of wheat and chaff should remind us to be mindful of our own repentance, lest we reject repentance as Herod did and become secure in our sins. By daily contrition and faith in the Gospel of the forgiveness of our sins we remain the wholesome grain of the Lord. Lamenting our sins and temptations in this life we sing, “Even so, Lord, quickly come to Thy final harvest-home; gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin, there forever purified, in Thy garner to abide. Come with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home. Amen” (TLH 574:4).