You Brood of Vipers

John that Baptist is an interesting character in the life of Jesus.  We do not know much about him other than he is a cousin to Jesus and was born a few months before him.  The only interactions we see between them is just before Jesus starting his public ministry when Jesus approaches John while he is baptizing people in the Jordan.  John is the one chosen who will announce that Jesus has come and points him out to Andrew who was one of John’s followers. John often runs afoul of authority, and we see this play itself out in the 3rd chapter of the Matthew’s Gospel.

John is teaching and preaching in the “wilderness” of Judea.  He is calling the people to repentance and quotes the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord; Make his paths straight.” He was attracting quite a crowd of people from the area, and this brought him to the attention of the authorities.  Individuals who are in power do not like to be challenged, and this is exactly what John was doing.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were coming out to see what was going on and John tested them by calling them a “Brood of Vipers.”  As you can imagine this did not sit too well with them, and they started to plot against him.

Jesus will use these same words against the same people in chapter 12 and chapter 23.  Jesus was always the hardest on those in religious leadership.  Jesus held the religious leaders to a much higher standard than other people.  Jesus never scolded anyone, well he came close with the woman at the well, but he dealt with people as people, except the religious leaders of his day. As much as John was calling the people to repentance, he was also calling the religious leaders to repentance.

Advent is a time for us to consider how we might be being called to reconcile not only with God but with other people.  The Advent season and the coming Christmas season is a great time to consider calling someone that we have been estranged from and repair that relationship.  It’s also a perfect time to improve your relationship with God.

The message of repentance that John was preaching in that desert are as necessary today as they were on that day.  There is no time like the present for reconciliation.

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