The psalm this morning is about the wicked and how one should deal with them and how God will handle them.
Here we have the questions from John the Baptist about who Jesus is. Jesus and John the Baptist. John is in prison wondering who this Jesus was and was he the Messiah. The tax collectors are mentioned here and probably it was because they were Jews hired by the Romans. The Jews paid a religious tax to the Jewish authorities to maintain the temple. They also paid a tax to the Roman government. This tax is estimated to have been 30-40% of an individual’s income. The tax collectors were independent contractors. They were usually Jews who paid a fixed sum to collect. Anything they could collect in excess of the tax required by the Romans was profit to them. There was a lot of abuse, as collectors would open every carton of goods traded, arbitrarily assess its value, and exact a tax payment. Assessments were usually inflated but there was no recourse or appeal of the decision about an unjust assessment. they also made money by making false charges of smuggling, then extorting hush money. They also targeted citizens unable to pay so that exorbitant interest could be charged them. Tax-collectors were despised by their fellow Jews. “They were an ever-present symbol of foreign oppression, they used cruel methods to become wealthy at the expense of their countrymen, and they worked in close association with Gentiles. For these reasons, tax-collectors were treated as the lowest class of sinners. Socially, they were rejected. Politically, they were regarded as both traitors. Religiously, they were excommunicated as apostates. Being a tax collector created an indelible black mark on a man in the eyes of the people. Tax collectors were not allowed to hold any office of community responsibility. They were not allowed to testify in Jewish legal courts. Rabbis debated whether it was possible for a tax-collector to experience true repentance.” http://www.pursuegod.org/tax-collectors-in-jesus-day/ Of course, everyone dislikes taxes and the people who collect them.
Johns baptism is about redemption, where Jesus was about forgiveness. The evangelicals believe that baptism and the receipt of the spirit are separate. Both must should happen. It initiates us into the fellowship of all believers. If the infant has just died you still do the baptism for the parents sake. The baptism is the combination of the word and the water. And we should invite people to be baptized. We have a lot of trust in our parents or whoever has us baptized when they tell us we were baptized. Affirming baptism is part of the 5th grade acceptance into communion. It begins the confirmation process. How does a sacrament like baptism differ from a symbol of our faith. This is a gift of grace given by God. Jesus gave us grace which allows things like baptism to be a gift of faith to us whereas Jews and Muslims worry about the details of the law. It also makes someone a part of the community.