7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:7-10 ESV)
“If you please God, it does not matter who you displease. And if you displease Him, it does not matter who you please.” – Dr. Steven J. Lawson
It is apparent that John the Baptist was not an orator, like many actors in the ancient Greek theater. An orator was comparable to a motivational speaker or actor. Their purpose was/is to appeal to their audience. They are consumer driven. They seek applause and approval.
Contrast that with the herald. A herald was a servant/slave of a king or monarch. His responsibility was to faithfully announce the king’s edicts and commandments. The herald did not change the message in order to make it more acceptable by the audience. The herald was not audience driven in order to gain their acceptance. Rather, the herald was obedience driven for the king’s pleasure and approval.
John the Baptist was not an orator. He was God’s herald. Consequently, he did not care if the Pharisees and Sadducees hated him. John sought God’s approval and not theirs.
John attacked the Pharisees and Sadducees self-righteous confidence that because they were Jewish and generationally related to the Patriarch Abraham that God accepted them. National ancestry is insufficient for justification (Rom. 2:12-29).
“They (the Pharisees and Sadducees) believed that merely being descendants of Abraham, members of God’s chosen race, made them spiritually secure. But Abraham’s real descendants are those who share his faith (cf. Rom. 4:16). And “those of faith . . . are the sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7, 29),” explains Dr. John MacArthur.
John continued by saying that those who do not repent of their sin, including the self-righteous and religious, are in imminent danger of God’s judgment. The image of an axe cutting down an unfruitful tree speaks of the Lord’s irreversible and imminent judgment upon the unrepentant.
Have you repented of your sin in order to flee from the wrath of God (Romans 1:18-32)? Deliverance from sin’s penalty, power and eventual presence is only by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. May the Lord grant to you not only repentance (2 Tim. 2:25), but also saving faith (Eph. 2:1-9).
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!