Each day I will be posting from the daily Bible Reading plan we will be doing at West Side. On weekdays we will be going through the New Testament. On the weekends we will read passages from the Old Testament books of Psalms and Proverbs. We invite you to join along.
Throughout the New Testament we encounter two of the ruling sects of Jewish culture during the time of Jesus; the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These two groups made up the Jewish “court” called the Sanhedrin. These groups were well trained in the Hebrew Scriptures … our Old Testament … and did their best to try and impose the laws and decrees upon the people. Sometimes the Pharisees would impose their own oral laws and traditions upon the people as well. While doing this they were also known to be double sided. Their outward appearance looking great, but inside sin and hatred ruled.
In today’s reading (Matthew 3), John, Jesus’ cousin, is preparing the way for Christ to come. He encounters the Pharisees and Sadducees while he was baptizing. He knows their hearts. He calls them out and tells them to correct their lives, to live as one producing good fruit. He then gives the warning that an ax is ready to cut down trees that are not producing good fruit. What a bold statement he makes to these respected men. He confronts them, even possibly embarrass them, but in it he spoke the truth.
If John were here today and you showed up at the place he was baptizing, what words would he have for you? Would he call you out in front of the masses, or would he know your heart and see its pure intentions?