7But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath?8Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.9Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.10Even now the axe of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.
11“I ebaptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will ebaptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.12He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
The Pharisees and Sadducees were the most religious people of the time. They were everything we would usually think of as “good”. The kept all the “rules”…and they were Satan’s snakes. You see, we don’t come into God’s kingdom by being good enough, and when we teach others to try to be “good enough”, we are helping Satan. John also rebukes them for thinking that just because they are Abraham’s descendents they will be saved. He makes it clear that membership in the right tribe would do them no good.
So what will save us from the axe and the fire? Jesus and only Jesus. When we come into God’s kingdom by admitting our sins, admitting our desperation, and putting all our trust and hope and faith in Jesus, then we are truly “baptized” into a new life and we truly become God’s children. John calls on the these religious people, and us, to be truly changed in our hearts and minds.
Lord, change me. I know I can get so caught up in following the rules that I can be down right evil. Soften my heart Lord. Make my words to be kind, my thoughts to be pure, and my ways to be merciful to everyone I meet today.
When are you tempted to be “religious” but not holy?
If being a follower of Jesus were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Beginner’s Online Bible Study *obbs*