Summary: A look at John the Baptist prophetic description of the Christ.
As we enter the season of advent, we think of Jesus this cute baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, in a stable in a place with a nice name, visited by the shepherds and the wise men and angels. The Christmas cards we have been brought up with show that it may have been snowing outside, and if we use our imaginations we can see cows and sheep admiring the baby as he lies peacefully in his manger with a smiling camel looking on. The story almost has this kind of fairy tale presence about it.
What we should remember is this was a real place.
The smelly stable attached to an overcrowded house.
The Roman occupied Middle East.
Unwed teenaged parents
The real hard times, babies slaughtered at the whim of a King.
The young couple fleeing to Egypt to escape the very likely death of their first born son.
Directly following this part of Matthews’s gospel, we read of Jesus slightly older eccentric second cousin talking about someone who is to follow him. Let’s read from Matthew 3:1-12.
The passages I wish to focus on are the verses 7 through to 12. These verses tell us some thing of human nature and the character of this person John the Baptist is speaking of. We will also have a little look at the history of the temple briefly.
1) So John spat the dummy at the Pharisees and the Sadducees, these people who thought for all intension purposes that they had it right with God. These people who knew the law, who knew the scripture, who had sound doctrine, they had it all written down and everything, the two groups didn’t see eye to eye on many points but that didn’t matter they were all descendants of Abraham and that is what mattered.
God had given them the nod they were alright with him.
Or were they?
John the Baptist, who as a matter of fact was not a Baptist but a Jew, saw them coming and let strip “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do you think you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father. etc etc etc.”
What these well dressed, well spoken, very clever, middle class men that John was addressing with extremely good family credentials had was really good CV’s. What they didn’t have was hearts that were in the right place, it was not well with their souls. They ponced about saying the right things, wearing the right robes talking about their ancestors and riding on their coat tails.
It’s a little like me saying well I’ve got a very nice uniform with the matching tie and red epilates, I have the right qualifications to be a Salvation Army Officer, One of my Grandfathers was a Church Steward in the Methodist Church, and my surname is the same as James Moffatt and he interpreted a Bible into English and well we might be related however distantly and he had a great relationship with God and with that kind of stuff and my well polished black shoes I’ll be alright with God also.
What John knew about these bods was that they looked good but under the façade was viper’s venom coiled and ready to strike, ready to cause death and destruction. These were very direct and judging words. Think of which other Biblical Character is described as a snake?
Like these men we need to be producing fruit in keeping with repentance, to be examining our lives, our actions, to be checking our souls and asking is it right with my soul – is my relationship with God right?
If not, why not? Also like LV Martin your Fisher and Price dealer if it’s not right it needs putting right, Mr Martin can’t put it right but there is one who can.
2) Who is it that John the Baptist is speaking of – there are absolutely no points for getting this answer right.
What does John say about this person? Well he compares himself to him saying. “I do this with water but he is going to be more powerful.”
Now the listen to this next bit, he comments about this person sandals and states that he not fit to carry them. So what?
Power point cat, Have you ever wondered what happens when a cat puts its head in a pair of shoes.
We’ll back in those days carrying the master of the houses sandals was the most menial, the lowest, the scummiest job that could be done in a household, to carry sandals was the pits. This job was given to the lowest ranked servant or slave.
Think of this no cars, public transport was by animal, animals left a fairly good trail behind them, waste was not always well disposed of, you would have walked in some pretty ripe material in the course of a day. These servants no doubt developed very good immune systems or died.