cannot be unsaid.

Matthew 3:1–9

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 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.’ ”

Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

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? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 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.

John obviously has some supernatural gifts that go beyond simple Christian eyes; he knew who Jesus is even before he was born. Still, some of John’s actions are lessons in Christian eyes. His call to repentance and his criticism of the Pharisees are in that category.

The challenge is figuring out how to apply this to our lives. John’s Christian eyes see the kingdom clearly, even to the point of seeing the hearts of the Pharisees. Can we see like that? Should we ever be this confrontational?

The first question is easy. Yes, we can see like that. Anyone can.

In fact, everyone did. That’s why Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

John was just saying what everyone knew, but he was the only one willing to say it.

The confrontation question is tougher. John saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” wasn’t confrontational, but his calling out the Pharisees and Sadducees was.

That’s not a general model we should follow, because John initiated a public confrontation. The Pharisees and Sadducees just showed up peacefully. Even with people as in need of confrontation as the Pharisees and Sadducees were, John’s approach is not for normal Christians. As we’ll see tomorrow, calling someone out publicly is almost never best. John’s supernatural gifts created an exception to the rule.

The choice to “start something” should never be taken lightly. Avoid snap decisions and get the council of others. As representatives of the kingdom of Heaven, we should always strive to act with class.

Words cannot be unsaid.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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.

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