March 18, 2022 – Friday
Matthew 3:7-8 NIV
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Yesterday, March 17, 2022, we looked at the first two verses of this chapter, In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Then looked a great deal on what repent means. You will find that posted here. We will find some of that repeated here later.
What was the context of John’s strong words to the Pharisees and Sadducees? The two prior verses tell us, People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. This clearly fits in with yesterday’s remarks where we had, Repentance is not merely sorrow. It involves a complete change of attitude regarding God and sin and is often accompanied by a sense of sorrow and a corresponding change in conduct.
Still, why is John calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a brood of vipers? What was the warning about the coming wrath? Why did he demand they Produce fruit in keeping with repentance? We are not told why they came to where John was baptizing. Likely it was out of great curiosity as John was the first prophet in Israel in 500 years – the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Even more likely they had ulterior motives, wanting to gain favor, not with John, but with those who were drawn by John or even looking to see if they can find some kind of fault in this new prophet who might be a threat to them and their power.
No matter their reasons, John addresses them as a brood of vipers, an obvious reference to the many snakes that can come from a mother snake. Vipers were well known for the ability to slyly approach and attack. Much like the serpent in Genesis 3. The implication is clear, they are from Satan. This would point to John’s warning about the coming wrath, as those who do not respond to John’s message by repenting, they will not escape God’s wrath. Finally, what does it mean to Produce fruit in keeping with repentance? Repentance we know from yesterday is a confession of one’s sins and turning away from a life of sin or the sins in one’s life. Pharisees did not believe the ‘just’ of which they believed themselves to be such had anything worth repenting about. The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife, thus would not see repentance as necessary. Turning from a life of sin and living a life to please God is the fruit of repentance. For the Pharisees and Sadducees this would not happen.
We can be sure of this from a parable Jesus told in Luke 18, 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Bottom Line: Let our repentance be real and let our fruit be known by our changed lives and how we live afterwards. This is what God wants for us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the clarity that fruit follows repentance and is the result of repentance and not the other way around. Help us to find ways to live our lives to honor and glorify You as part of our fruit of repentance. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton