Matthew 3:1-12, November 17, 2019
Brood of Vipers, Revival, Repentance, and Judgment
Brood of Vipers Only two people in the Bible used the phrase brood of vipers or generation of vipers – John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ. The slide we have shows the various ways we find this phrase in various translations, a definition for a brood and the four instances where you will find the phrase spoken.
3:1 In verse one John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness of Judea. From other scripture we know he was baptizing on the east side of the Jordan.
3:2 John was preaching Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near. Jesus in 4:17 would also preach Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. Both are very similar to Ezekiel telling the people of Israel to repent.
3:3 John’s arrival was foreordained and this verse is a fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3
3:4 Compare how John the Baptist was dressed similar to that of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8 He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist. John is the New Elijah spoken of in Malachi 4:5 See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. Jesus speaks of him this way in Matthew 11:14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.
3:5-6 John had a revival going on. How long we do not know, but it had to be for a good while for the people to come from such a distance.
They came from Jerusalem, Judea, and the region of the Jordan. These two short verses are a great compression of all John was doing. Later we will find out he had disciples baptizing people in the Jordan who received forgiveness as in Isaiah 43:25 and Isaiah 44:22.
It went this way, much as it does today, John preached, they were convicted and confessed and repented of their sins, received forgiveness, and were baptized.
3:7 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees show up. When we get to Matthew 21:25 we will find out they did not believe John the Baptist was not sent by God, from Heaven for in a back a forth Jesus asked them John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin? They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’
John knew them as a brood of vipers who were fleeing the coming wrath. Snakes would flee the fields during the harvest or when the stubble was being burned off.
3:8-9 These two verses are not just for the Pharisees and Sadducees, but for everyone listening – including us. John is telling them to bring forth fruit worthy of their repentance being accepted – showing their hearts and minds are truly changed! That there was true/actual repentance. This may be where James got his idea of faith and deeds.
John also makes clear just being a Jew was not enough to assure one a place in heaven, just as going to church is not enough for us today. In Galatians 3:29 Paul tells us If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. We become children raised up for Abraham.
3:10 John’s baptism nor descent from Abraham is protection from the axe (wrath) of God. The only escape is by the fruitfulness resulting from repentance – evidence of a changed heart and life. Without this there will be a judgment – an unwanted judgment of fire. John wants them to know God’s axe will be used against the Pharisees as well as those this think they are to judge.
3:11 One day soon, the greater reality will come! John is aware of Jesus’ divinity without being able to put it into words. For not only is He greater, but holier than John who is not worthy to carry his shoes – the job of the lowest slave. His baptism will be grater with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Fire will both refine and be a result of judgment.
3:12 The ancient way of threshing grain among the poor was to toss it into the wind with a winnowing fork, and then with a shovel. The good grain would then fall to the ground, and would be shoveled away, taken to the barn, and the useless chaff would be blown to one side, some gathered up and burned, the rest blown away and lost forever. This is what John sees with regard to the one greater than him – the Great Winnower.
Discussion Balance between home & church/faith or Integration of home & church/faith via repentance.