The Real Thing
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’ ”
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
- Matthew 3:1-11
John the Baptist saw that the Pharisees were coming and trying to bypass judgment with many others who came with a genuine heart. This was imperative to know because they weren’t normal bystanders. Pharisees were religious people who were very strict and did not actually have a revelation of the word as they projected. They knew the word, but they didn’t know the God of the word. They were seen and called hypocrites and even blind guides because of their behavior (Matthew 23:13-39). So for them to come to repent, he was saying don’t use this as just an act, give Him the real thing. Some versions say “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God”.
In a way, he was saying:
Rend your heart and not your garment…(Joel 2:13)
Clean the inside of the cup…(Matthew 23:26)
Love God and Treat your neighbor as yourself…(Luke 10:27)
Live out real principles, versus empty, polished acts.
He’s asking for the real thing. God has always been the type that is after the heart of the matter. The world is always after the acts. What we can see. However, that never really sustains us. What's inside does. What is inside of us will spill out whether we like it or not, and if it is virtuous it will preach the gospel all the more. For example, the bible says: “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Don’t go to church and sing over your attitude with your friends. Or ignore your spouse after an argument and go serve on a ministry team. Or go to work and be rude to others then go and lead prayer. That's not worship, the reconciliation is. That's the gift.
He wants inward parts not active gestures. We have to realize it's all a process, but it is in fact a working process. Meaning you do have to put effort into practicing what you read. Let's take steps to walk out the word. Let's not be like the Pharisees and come with a look of repentance but not a lifestyle of one. Be encouraged that real conversion has real fruit attached, and yields much more than what we can ever fake or hide. It's better we learn this sooner than later, because at the end of the day, the wheat and tare will separate anyway.
Until next time,