Jul 3rd, 2017
We just got done with our three week series looking at Ephesians 6:11. We will get back to the armor of God. Probably not next week, but most likely the week after that. I wanted to take a little bit of a break from that one topic and vary things up a little bit here.
Here in Matthew 3:9 this is John the Baptist talking and what's going on is that he is preaching and baptizing people when some Pharisees and Sadducees show up and they get in line to be baptized. We know from context, and historically, that these two groups of religious leaders were very openly critical of Johns message.
John was teaching that ALL should repent and turn to God to prepare for the arrival of the Messiah. The religious line of the day was that the gentiles couldn't repent and turn to God, for no other reason than that they were born gentile. And the Jews, well, they didn't need the repentance that John was preaching because of the yearly sacrifices covering sin and because they were descendants of Abraham and heirs of the covenant that God had made with Abraham.
John sees these Pharisees and Sadducees get in line and he openly rebukes them, "O' generation of vipers. Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits mete for repentance and think not to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham for our father." for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
Let's pause for a second and back up just a little bit. The philosopher Socrates is credited with expressing gratitude for having been born; human and not a brute, a man and not a woman, Greek and not barbarian. Two hundred years after the time of Christ and John an adaptation of Socrates expression became an official part of the daily prayers of a Jewish man. Thanking God for not having been born; a gentile, a slave, or a woman.
If you look at the Jewish culture throughout the bible you see that changes and adaptations take a long time. By the time the events of Matthew 3 take place Socrates thoughts of gratitude had been circulating for 300 years. And were more than likely well known by, and adopted by, the Pharisees and Sadducees.
If we look back at Matthew 3:9 the word for stones in Greek is:
G3037 λίθος lithos lee'-thos Apparently a primary word; a stone (literally or figuratively): - (mill-, stumbling-) stone.
A stumbling stone is pretty self explanatory. A millstone is a large round stone that rests in a shallow basin with a rod through it to a center vertical rod. It's set up so that when you push the horizontal rod the stone rolls around the circle of the basin. You throw grain or whatever you want to crush in there and as the stone rolls it crushes it.
To the Pharisees and Sadducees, the gentiles and anyone who didn't agree with their ultra-orthodox interpretations of the law was considered a stumbling stone - tripping up the faithful. Or a millstone grinding away at the truth. When John says, "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." you should get a mental image not of John gesturing down into the edges of the river where there are physical stones on the ground. But John gesturing towards the crowds of people waiting to repent, waiting to be baptized.
I am a stone that John was talking about there. Most of you are stones that John was talking about there. Not born an orthodox Jew, not legally qualified to walk in the blessings of Abraham. But God... But Jesus... Through the redemptive work of Christ; I have been, you have been, or could become. We have been raised up to the status of Children of Abraham. We have been raised up to heirs of the covenant that God started with Abraham that was finished through Christ on the Cross.
That is very good news! Very good news about a free gift that doesn't depend on your actions, your works, or your worldly value. It all depends on what Christ already did. If you haven't stepped into that redemptive work. If you haven't already started your relationship with Christ. Now is a good time. Turn your heart towards the Lord.
Send me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call our phone number and leave a voicemail. I will get back to you, I will pray with you, I'll call or email you. You can start this journey towards a relationship with Christ and receive this free gift that was started with Abraham and finished with Christ.
Go back and look all that up and make sure that it lines up with the scriptures.
Until next time...