Matthew 3:9 “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.”
The imagery of God’s Word continually sets me back in how to see the world. From God’s perspective, the world looks a lot different than from my perspective.
When the Pharisees and Sadducees happened upon the teaching of John the Baptist, they might have been taken back by the boldness of his rebuke. The people of Israel had neglected the value of worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in truth. The practice of these religious rulers was that of legalism and this practice found its footing by exerting authority over the people.
Sadly, these men thought they were blessed by God. Through their works they thought they could conjure up God’s favor and by their position they thought they had succeeded.
John’s scathing rebuke must have seemed like an oddity. A crudely dressed man living in the wilderness probably didn’t invoke much fear in these men and yet here was John bringing accusations that were quite serious.
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” vs. 7
Wow, if I was in their position, that would have not only been offensive but I would have questioned why he was so upset with me.
Bearing fruit is what the Pharisees and Sadducees thought they were doing, they thought by holding everyone to the strict standard of the law they were leading their people in holiness before the Lord.
I wonder if we stood before John, if we would receive a similar rebuke today or would it be a loving embrace?
Matthew 3:10 “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.”
I’ve met very few people who enjoy being rebuked. The typical response by the ones defending themselves is an attempt to justify their actions; but what should we do if someone rebukes us?
If someone in your church came up to you and said what John said to those religious leaders, would you have thought they were a lunatic?
That’s what they thought about John, and yet Jesus declared there was no one greater than John born of man. John was undoubtedly upset after watching these men create such a difficult system to live by, it made it impossible for people to approach God.
If someone rebukes you, there’s clearly a reason for their frustration with you. Instead of immediately defending yourself or turning the tables and bringing accusations against them, how about taking the matter to the Lord first, seeking to find out how God sees you? You just might be in error and so far from God you couldn’t see yourself for who you are or what you represent.
The danger of refusing a rebuke is the same danger these men of the Sanhedrin found themselves under….God may be preparing to cut you down.
It’s interesting doing a study on how many times Jesus rebuked people. If it wasn’t the disciples getting rebuked for continually getting ahead of themselves or taking actions into their own hands, then it was a demon possessed person and Jesus was rebuking the unclean spirit. Regardless, the rebuke is fitting when the one being rebuked is working counter to God’s purposes.
Psalm 119:21 “You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed, those who stray from your commands.”
When it came to John, he doesn’t specifically mention which stones he was referring to that he said God was able to use, we do know that he was often teaching near the Jordan river. The most prominent stones by the Jordan would have been the standing stones left by Joshua and the children of Israel as they crossed over into the promised land.
Joshua 4:5-7 “And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
These standing stones were memorials of God’s faithfulness. The Jordan river was at flood stage when Joshua and the Israelites approached it and yet God stopped up the waters as they passed through. These stones would have brought a testimony of God’s faithfulness, more than any Pharisee or Sadducee could have done in a lifetime.
We have a legacy of faith before us today. The Word of God is our source of Truth and it stands as the means for which we are to live our lives.
We often think God ‘needs’ us to accomplish His work but the reality of it is, God has everything in place necessary to reveal His glory. The Word of God is sufficient, we only need to be heralds for God, demonstrating His light to the world, proclaiming the gospel as it has been revealed.
1 Peter 2:5 “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
In the same manner the standing stones at the river Jordan became a lasting testament of God’s faithfulness, God’s people have now become living stones by which God gives testament of His faithfulness.
The stones that God has raised is you!
Galatians 3:7-9 “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
If you have partaken of the body and blood of Christ, you have been washed white and made new in Him. For all who have received Christ, these are sons and daughters of the spiritual seed of Abraham.
The same faith that Abraham exhibited in trusting God and making a covenant of faith, is the same faith we must exhibit when committing our lives unto the Lord.
Sure, there will always be the legalistic Pharisees who think that God wants ‘perfect’ people. God has called you to come as you are, He will purify you with His Spirit and the washing of the Word. As you submit to His work in you, He will complete the work that He has started.
Remember, as living stones, people are watching you—they are looking for Christ in you. Show them that you have been formed from the Rock that the builders rejected, the Chief Cornerstone that secures the foundation of your building ….show them Jesus, let Him be glorified.