October 3rd, 2006
The people described as Pharisees and Sadducees whom John the Baptist criticised were essentially the first century thought police. They had behavioural guidelines which were intended to help people obey God’s laws correctly, but they often had the result of causing people to stop seeking for the truth. John the Baptist described them as a “brood of vipers” or the “spawn of snakes”. Unfortunately nowadays there are lots of thought police both inside the church and outside. The “spawn of snakes” includes those who expect you to dress and act in a particular way before you will be welcomed into a church. It also includes those who insist that everything you do and say must be politically correct.
Matthew’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 3
3:1 In those days, John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea: 3:2 “Repent! The kingdom of heaven is near!” 3:3 He was the one predicted by Isaiah the prophet: “A voice calls out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight roads for him.'”
3:4 John wore camel’s hair clothing, with a leather belt around his waist. His diet was locusts and wild honey. 3:5 People from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the districts around the Jordan went out to him, 3:6 and were baptised by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins. 3:7 But when he saw numerous Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the baptisms, he said to them, “You spawn of snakes, who warned you to run away from the coming vengeance? 3:8 Produce fruit which is worthy of repentance! 3:9 Don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our forefather,’ because I tell you that God can raise up children of Abraham from these stones.
3:10 “The axe is already aimed at the root of the trees. Every tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. 3:11 I baptise you in water for repentance, but someone much stronger than me is coming. I am not even worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptise you in the Holy Spirit and fire. 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
3:13 Then Jesus arrived at the Jordan from Galilee, to be baptised by John. 3:14 But John tried to stop him, saying, “I need to be baptised by you, but you come to me?”
3:15 But Jesus answered, “Let it happen, because this is the proper way for us to fulfil all righteousness.” So he consented. 3:16 Jesus was baptised and went up out of the water, and immediately the heavens were opened. He saw the Spirit of God coming down and landing on him like a dove. 3:17 A voice called out from the heavens, “This is my Son whom I love, and I am very pleased with him.”
Entry Filed under: Legalism