Reading: Matthew 3: 5-12
John challenges the Pharisees and Sadducees who come out to see just what is going on in the desert. He welcomes them with, “You brood of vipers!”. What a welcome! John goes on to ask, “Who warned you of the coming wrath”? It is almost to say, ‘who woke you up’? John is implying that they have been lost or in a daze.
John goes on to tell these religious leaders that they need to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. John is implying that they need to repent first, then to begin producing good fruit. He warns them about complacency and the status quo, warning them that the axe is at the root of the tree. I wonder if they realize they are the tree. John wraps up this exchange by telling of Jesus, the one who is coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
We can read these words from John and smirk as we think about how those pompous religious folks have gotten a good talking to. Or we can realize that maybe John is talking to us too. To determine this, we must ask ourselves what fruit we are producing for the kingdom of God. How are our lives planting seeds and bringing others into God’s presence?
One step beyond, especially true in this season of Advent, is to ask, ‘How are we preparing ourselves for the coming of the Christ child’? What do you and I each need to repent of to be a worthy home for the babe to dwell in? May we each step into our own place of solitude today to search our souls for the answers to these questions. And may we emerge, ready to bear good fruit for God’s kingdom.