You Brood of Vipers!

John chews out his audience, yet they flock to him.

Luke 3:7-14 (ESV)

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin 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. 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.”

And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

John’s insulting words seem designed to drive the crowds away – yet they have the opposite effect. Why would people flock to hear a message like this? Why would they ask such a man to instruct them in how to live?

Truth can have this effect. There’s something deep inside everyone that knows right from wrong. It’s the image of God in us. That “voice of the conscience” can be suppressed but never totally silenced. When the lies of this world don’t work as promised, that voice gets louder.

When the conditions are right, bold truth can really catch on. Israel was anticipating the arrival of the messiah and John’s harsh language fits the narrative.

His words of truth spread like wildfire.

We need to be more comfortable in public with the gospel. Many Christians are cowed into hiding their beliefs. The forces of evil want us to be ashamed of our beliefs. Christians are typically painted as hypocrites (or worse) in the media. We need to counter that by making our faith an obvious part of our personalities.

You don’t need to be someone preaching from a soap-box on street-corners, just be comfortable talking about what you know. Christians often act like their faith is something weird.

Loving Jesus isn’t any stranger than loving chess or loving bluegrass music. Knowing what the Bible says isn’t any stranger than knowing what Shakespeare wrote.

Ask God to give you peace and comfort in your faith. It’s neither something to hide nor something to be in people’s faces about. Knowing who Jesus is and what He did is like knowing the warning signs of a stroke.

It’s something everyone should know.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.