Wow! John the Baptist sure knows how to be publicly correct. Calling people a brood of vipers and telling of an ax ready to chop down those not producing good fruit is going to get a bunch of people agitated. You can almost hear them hissing in protest, can’t you.? This was John the Baptist’s strategy. The people were coming to be baptized by him in anticipation for the coming of the Lord. He was pushing them to become what their actions meant.
Who wouldn’t want the coming of the Lord? Especially, if it means the Romans get kicked out of the region and you are given power and wealth and blessing and…. Who wouldn’t want this good news! Yet, John the Baptist is calling them a brood of vipers. So what gives?
We live in a season of expectation that defines good news and blessing by gifts received and parties attended. However the words of John the Baptist are still echoing for us to hear and heed. If good news is to be good news, then it must be for everyone. He is pushing us to become what is that good news.
John the Baptist describes the coming of Christ who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Christ will separate the chaff from the wheat with the chaff being burned with unquenchable fire. This is good news because this means everything will be changed and a new reign, the Kingdom of God will be established over us. This is going to be as dynamic a transformation as death giving way to resurrection.
So what should we do? If someone is hungry, feed them. If someone is shivering in the cold then find them warmth. If you are in a position of power then quit rigging the system to your advantage… quit using your power to profit at the expense of others. This is a radical change from what is happening in the daily news.
So with such news John the Baptist exhorted the people and preached good news to them. The good news of the Kingdom of Heaven which we welcome in Christ. It is good news because it is good news for all.