Summary: 3rd in a four part character study on the life of John the Baptist.
"A COURAGEOUS CONFRONTER"
How many of you are familiar with the X-Men? They are another of the superheroes of Marvel Comic fame and have been the stars of two blockbuster films for 20th Century Fox and “X-Men 3" is scheduled for release in May of next year.
The “X-Men” are a little different than our other Superhero sagas. Rather than being a cape crusader or possessing super powers because of a spider bite or even being from another planet, X-Men’s premise is that certain people have mutated within their species to have superhuman powers. The two main characters are Professor Charles Xavier, the good guy known as Prof. X, and Eric Lensherr, the bad guy, known as Magneto. Eric was a part of the holocaust where people, because they were “different,” were treated inhumanely. Now, as a mutant, Eric sees normal humans headed down that road again against them and he’s one angry mutant. He wants to destroy all homo sapiens and only the X-Men, a team of mutant superheroes stands in his way. In X-Men 2 a group of regular humans led by a father who saw his son become a mutant wants to eradicate the mutant population and toward the end of the film has convinced the President to help. The X-men have done everything in their power to bring about the end to the bad apples in the mutant contingency and do not want any additional problems. But by the end of the movie Professor Xavier realizes that the only way to prevent an all out war between the humans and the mutants is to confront the President with the truth.
VIDEO CLIP - X-MEN 2 - Start: Chap. 37 - 1:58:25 - End: 2:02:05 - 3:45
Now, I rather doubt that in any confrontation you may have that superheroes will be by your side to manipulate time and weather; nor do I think many of us will have the chance to confront the President. But all of us, from time to time, have opportunities to confront someone who is either about to be wrong, are wrong or are wronging others. Maybe you have someone in your family who is addicted to drugs and you’re not sure how to approach them. Maybe you have a friend who you see going down a wrong road but don’t know what to say. Maybe your child is being rebellious and you know that hurt and heartache lie around the corner but you don’t know what to do. Now, unlike that clip where there was some obvious intimidation - “We will be watching” we want to look at our Biblical Superhero, John the Baptist, and take a cue from him as to how to confront others. John is one of the greatest examples in history of a courageous confronter and can be a great help when we need to be the same.
I. CONFRONTING OTHERS: Matthew 3:5--10
I want to begin by looking at our hero and seeing his confrontation of others. First, he confronted those who were doing wrong in his sphere of influence: the religious leaders. Matthew tells us that people from everywhere were coming to hear John’s message. Vs:6- "People from Jerusalem and from all over the Jordan Valley, and, in fact, from every section of Judea went out to the wilderness to hear him preach, 6and when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River." Then look at vs:7- "But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming judgment?" I want us to grasp what’s going on here. John is at the peak of his popularity. People are flocking to see and hear him. He was the talk of Judea. So much so that the religious leaders came out to investigate. Now, the presence of these religious leaders could of been flattering to John. To equate this visit with our day.. It would be like the seminary professors, the religious editors, the famous preachers: Rick Warren, Billy Graham, all coming to listen. This was John’s chance to make a favorable impression.
You know, we are taught in speech class that there is a proper way to address dignitaries: "Mister Chairman," "Madam Prime Minister," "Distinguished guests.." Shouldn’t of John said, "Illustrious Pharisees," "Honorable Priests, Distinguished keepers of the Law. I am both honored and humbled by your presence here today.” Well, John blew that protocol! He basically says in vs:7: "Hey snakes! Who tipped you off that without God you’re in deep trouble?" Whoa! You’re not going to find that in the Dale Carnegie course on “How to win friends and influence people.”‘
But John was into telling the truth. And not only does he call them names but he tells them.. they have to repent! Now, maybe those of you not in ministry don’t know this, but let me share a little secret: Those of us who are spiritual leaders often don’t like to be told we need to get more spiritual, let alone repent. Because after all we are the leaders.. we set the standards.. we are the examples.. “Why would we need spiritual adjustment.” That’s not what John thought. He told these leaders that they needed to change their ways or else. Vs:10- "Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever your roots." John is telling it to them straight. Remember John is preparing the way for the Jesus. And I’m sure he’s addressing some of the same religious leaders who will crucify Jesus three years later. So there is an urgency in his voice.. He is warning them, for their soul’s sakes. Can you imagine how incensed these guys were? But, you see, John placed saving souls over popularity. He didn’t care what they thought of him.. they were in danger and he wanted to warn them.