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 axe 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.
Matthew 3: 7 – 10
John doesn’t exactly mince his words does he! The Pharisees were respected religious figures so for John to unleash such a tirade would have been shocking. So why did he take such issue with them?
Well John’s key message was repentance. The word means to change your mind, to turn away from what you were doing before. The problem with the Pharisees was that they didn’t think they needed to change anything about themselves. They were morally pure, well-educated and of course descendants of Abraham. So when John came saying none of that matters, repent and follow this new path, they rejected his message. The call to change undermined the thing that gave them pride and self-worth, so they couldn’t accept it.
Change is hard, especially when that change threatens our sense of self. It’s nice to feel like you’ve made it and have everything figured out. But that feeling is an illusion because life is always changing. It’s a journey that doesn’t have a simple destination, but instead always brings up new and different challenges. It’s up to us how we respond to that change. We can be like the Pharisees and reject change, cling on to the things that give us status and security. Or we can be open to change, and be ready to repent and do things differently.
Prayer: Lord I repent from all the ways of thinking that keep me static and stuck. Help me to be less afraid of change and instead embrace change as a way to grow and develop.
Action: Imagine you could meet yourself from 10 years ago. How would you explain to them how you have changed?