[20APRIL2012] Eastertide Devotional Series
I will be posting this devotional series as part of my Eastertide reflections for the next three weeks (see this link for other installments in the series). Each week of this devotional series focuses on a specific theme (week one: brokenness, week two: repentance, and week three: renewal). I hope you’ll enjoy the series and I invite you to comment here on the blog or email me direct; I would love to hear your thoughts.
Repentance: Week 2 | Day 6
Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:1-12, Galatians 5:22-23 (see also John 15:1-8)
“You brood of snakes… Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath?”
This is certainly one of the “ouchie” statements we read from Scripture. At first glance, I quickly wipe the sweat from my brow and thank God that John is talking to those wicked Pharisees and Sadducees… and not directing his words to me. Hmmm… or is he directing his words toward me after all? It’s easy to make villains of the Pharisees and Sadducees, they seem to be the bad boys of the New Testament. Even Jesus denounced them more harshly than any other group of people. However, there is something about John the Baptist’s words in this passage of text that prompts me to look a little more closely.
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? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’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. Even now the ax 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.
Let’s forget about the Pharisees and Sadducees for a moment. Ask yourself what your motivation for coming to Jesus is? Is it to simply save yourself? “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath?” I think this is an interesting question to ask myself. It’s easy to think that because I’ve said a prayer asking for forgiveness and joined a church that “I’m safe.” John’s words make me rethink this position… he as much as says “that means nothing” if my repentance doesn’t reveal itself in fruit that proves I have turned toward God. And, what is the fruit of repentance?
I’m sure fruits of repentance manifest themselves tangibly in a number of ways, but I think the journey of transformation that repentance leads us on is very closely related to being re-imaged in the image and character of Christ. Subsequently, I think we get a good picture of what this fruit might involve from the Apostle’s description in Galatians 5:22-23; “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
The question then, I should ask, is this: “Is my motivation for coming to Jesus to save my own skin aka ‘flee the coming wrath?'” Or, is my motivation to be fully reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and allow Him to remake my image into His likeness and fruit? As I finish typing this another saying of Jesus comes to my memory; “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Matt. 16:25). If I honestly examine my life, do I see the evidence of godly fruit such as a more loving nature, exhibiting joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
Our Prayer Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner. I pray today, O Lord, that I have not grown complacent and satisfied thinking I have arrived or I am safe because of the words I speak or the church I attend. I pray you would have your way in my life, help me to completely surrender my life to you, so I might bear the kind of fruit that truly reflects your character and nature. I want to be your true disciple, one who bears much fruit and brings much glory to You, my God and King. Amen.