Our scripture this week is Matthew 3:1-12.
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? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
John calls everyone to repentance but he singles out the religious leaders who are supposed to be models for their people, telling them that a change is coming and they must change their lives accordingly. He doesn’t say they can’t be saved, but he warns that they can’t rely on the fact they are special because of their position or their heritage.
The challenge comes to us as well. Our family, job or society can’t save us. We must make the decision for ourselves to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (verse 8). Nothing we do and nothing we are brings us to salvation but we show our acceptance of Christ’s promise and prove our love for Him by the lives we lead.
John has one more warning for us all in verse 10 – “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire”. The time to change is now, for as we have heard, we do not know the hour when Christ will return. Only you can choose to live a new life in Him, and He is always ready to receive us!
Gracious God, we know we are responsible for our sin and our repentance. Help us to admit our failures and accept the love and forgiveness You send us through Jesus. Amen.