Summary: Message discussing the meaning of repentance and how it should affect our lives.

The ¡§Fruit of Repentance¡¨

Matthew 3:1-12

January 11, 2004


What do you think of when you hear the word ¡§repent?¡¨

Two images come to my mind right away. The first is the street preacher with a Bible as big as your Aunt Martha¡¦s Buick, screaming at people to repent to escape the coming judgment.

The second is the guy in robes and sandals, either holding or wearing a sign that says, ¡§Repent, for the end is near!¡¨

For many people, myself included, repentance has for a long time carried a negative connotation, mainly because of images like I have just described.

But actually, repentance is not the big scary thing it has been made out to be. This morning I want us to look at what it means to repent, and also to look at how repentance should impact our lives.

But in doing that, I want us to first read our passage for today, which is Matthew 3:1-12. If you¡¦re using the Bibles in the seats, this is found on page 682.

1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

"A voice of one calling in the desert, `Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ "

4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

7 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? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 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. 10 The ax 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.

11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Next week we may take a closer look at John¡¦s message, but today I want to bring out four lessons and an application that will help us look at repentance as more than just a word in the Bible, but something we can make a part of our lives in a positive manner.

The first lesson we learn from this passage is that¡K

1. John was not ¡§just¡¨ a baptist!

He was actually a Lutheran. Just kidding! I say that sometimes just to get the goat of my Baptist brothers and sisters! Sometimes I¡¦ll call him John the Baptizer just to see if they notice. Hee Hee¡K

John¡¦s job was more than just getting people wet. Yes, people came to him for baptism, but it was in response to his message.

He was a prophet, proclaiming the coming of the message of the kingdom of heaven.

And as with the other prophets, he made friends and he made enemies with his message. His words cut to the very spirit of the people who heard him. And they could choose to believe and respond, or they could choose to not believe, and ignore the message.

Hmmm. That¡¦s kinda the choice for those who hear the message of Christ as well. Go figure.

I can almost imagine the Pharisees and Sadducees with their puffed-up attitudes thinking, ¡§Who does this guy think He is, anyway? Here we are, the spiritual and religious muckity-mucks, full of the respect of the people, and obviously pleasing to God; and this guy comes around, telling us we need to repent! The nerve. And he¡¦s not even wearing a clerical robe!¡¨

The methodology of John was his proclaiming of the good news and the baptizing of those who came with repentant hearts.

2. John had a timeless message: repent!

Verse 2 says that John went about preaching:

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Actually there were two parts of the message: ¡§repent,¡¨ and, ¡§the Messiah is coming.¡¨

And as I mentioned, I hope to dissect his message a bit more next week, but today let¡¦s focus on the first part ¡V repent.

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