The crowds, tax collectors and soldiers, all three groups, surprisingly, asked John the same question: 'What must we do'? To each group, John gave a different answer. John told the crowds to be generous and charitable wherever, and whenever they could assist others, 'If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none'. To the tax collectors, John told them that they should follow their guidelines, 'exact no more than your rate'. To soldiers, John told them that they needed to carry out their duty with moderation, 'No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay' Luke 3,10-14.
The two important groups in the Roman society were soldiers and tax collectors. They were important because soldiers represented the Roman's might, and tax collectors represented the economic power. These two prominent groups were mentioned because they had power over the whole population. They had no power to change the structure of society at the national level, but in carrying out their daily duties, they had power over the life of individuals. John told them to adopt a new way of doing their work, to be more generous, more gentle, and just in dealing with others. By doing that, they would significantly reduce stress and pain for many. The tax collectors and soldiers who came to John for baptism were the clear sign that John's preaching had made tremendous impact on the middle level power holders of Roman society.
Mending human relationships meant returning to God. John came to prepare a way for the Lord. His preaching aimed at the new way of human relationships. The first way John talked about was the way of a person's mind and heart. He then talked to the crowds about acts of charity. He specifically mentioned the needy, the ones who had not enough clothing to cover themselves, and people who went to bed with an empty stomach. To those who had power, John talked to them about their jurisdictions, and that related to the issues of social justice. John's advice was reasonable and within the capacity of each profession. John called people to act, to do something useful and good for others.
Good works would be understood as wheat; while empty words, and empty promises would be understood as chaff. John forewarned the people of what would happen to wheat and chaff. Wheat would be stored and chaff was good for fire. For those who listened to John, doing good work, The One Who came after John would baptise them with the Holy Spirit; for those who refused John's preaching, The One Who came after John would baptise them with fire. John began the good work, preparing the way for the Lord. Jesus came to perfect the way. John was faithful to his vocation: a voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord. Jesus developed the ways and He himself was the way, the truth and life.
John's message was Good News for those who repent and was a threat to those who refused to repent.
a/ It was Good News because people had longed to see the Promised Messiah.
b/ It was a Good News because God's salvation was very near. It was in the person of Jesus, and the Good News was given to people of good will.
c/ It was Good News because people would soon hear God's voice. God would no longer speak through prophets, but through God's only Son, Jesus.
d/ It was Good News because God, in His mercy, gave people the opportunity to return to God, to repent. John had the message of Good News and also the sign of God's generosity to God's people.