Monday, November 19, 2012

Who is being baptized?




Scripture

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
(Matthew 3:7 NASB)
“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance;
(Matthew 3:8 NASB)
and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
(Matthew 3:9 NASB)
“The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
(Matthew 3:10 NASB)

 

Observation


I was struck in my reading today that it was the Pharisees and Sadducees who were coming out to see John the Baptist and to be baptized by him. These were the religious leaders of the day and yet they were coming and being baptized by John. Why would they do that? Was God truly speaking to them and were they repentant in their hearts, or was something else happening? Is it possible that these sticklers when it came to the law heard about what was happening and and simply did not want to be left out. Did they go for the wrong reasons and/or motivations? Was it more about covering their bases? John could see right through them and that's why he responded in the way he did. Repentance was much more than just a public proclamation of faith, instead it was also life-changing and the result was that this individual would bear fruit. The warning is found there as well -- if this is just about a public show of spirituality, beware, because the axe is ready to cut down those who bear no fruit!

Application

The message and the warning for us becomes quite clear. Our Christian walk is one which must be genuine, and to be genuine means that there will be fruit, otherwise we are no better than the Pharisees and Sadducees. If there is anything about our Christian life that is simply about show and impressing other people, then we have it all wrong and God will reveal what we have done to the whole world. The axe is already in his hand and he will cut us off if we are not genuine and we do not bear fruit.

John was calling people to true repentance. We are all still called to true repentance today, no matter who we are! We must examine ourselves on a daily basis and repent for the wrong attitudes and motivations that we may find our hearts. We must repent for ignoring that needy person who really wanted our attention last week. We must repent for not bearing the fruit that God has intended for us.
What does it mean for us to bear fruit? Since we are all a variety of people (trees), we will all bear different fruit. If it all looked the same it would be a strange world and/or church in which we live. However, whatever God has created us to be, that is what we are, and that is the kind of fruit we are to bear. Even the Pharisees and Sadducees were unique trees from God who should have been bearing fruit. They should have been the ones raising up the incredible Biblical scholars and Godly church leaders who would deeply influence the world -- but they were not -- they were not bearing fruit! And what did God have to do? Because of the unfaithfulness of those who called themselves God's people, and because those to whom God had intrusted the Law did not raise up a new generation of spiritual leaders -- God had to go outside of them. And God chose a rag-tag band of twelve individuals who, when filled with the spirit, went out and bore fruit and changed the world.

Who is it that's being baptized -- and why? What are we doing at church? Why are we there? The axe is already sharp, it's time for us to really repent and be about God's business!

Prayer


Lord, please help me to be your servant who is producing fruit for you and your kingdom. Amen.

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