7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 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.” 10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely —be content with your pay.”
John uses some strong language speaking to the crowd; it’s never complimentary when you’re referred to as a poisonous snake! John shocks the people out of their comfort zone; he confronts them in regards to their reliance on ritual, and their identity as sons of Abraham. The main issue here is the state of these people’s hearts. John challenges them that if they are sincere in repenting from sin and turning to God there should be clear evidence in their lives. Selfless generosity, integrity and compassion, these should be the fruit in our lives.
John’s voice challenges me, how deep does my repentance go? Is there evidence in my life day by day that I have turned from a life of sin and am pursuing Christ? I desire that the fruit of my life draw people closer to God.
Written by Beth Waugh