Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/5/2022: Matthew 3:1-12

Today please be in prayer for

Chaplain, Michael Debakey VA Medical Center, Houston
Chaplain, US Army, Fort Carson, Colorado
Chaplain, Vitas Healthcare, Riverside, California
Chaplain Resident (CPE), St Luke's Hospital, Kansas City and Children's Mercy

Today's Lectionary Text

Matthew 3:1-12

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.”’

Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

 

 

Today's Devotional

  • John provided a stark critique to the religious elite. It would have been taken for granted, by most, that to be an Israelite was to be an ancestor of Abraham. Said differently, they took for granted that they were part of God’s promised covenant community. What is John implying by noting that God could raise children of Abraham from stones? [Biology is no guarantee of being part of the community.]
  • What might the ax lying “at the root of the trees” be referring to? [Israel is often pictured as a tree in the Old Testament (examples include Jeremiah 11:16-17, Ezekiel 15:6). To imagine an ax next to the tree is to see judgment at hand.]
  • What might John’s emphasis on “bearing good fruit” imply to this rebuke? [It is not enough to have right ideas.]
  • In keeping with this theme of judgement, “fire” in both verse 11 and verse 12 is a fire of judgment. So, what might this fire of judgment say about how John the Baptist envisions the ministry of Jesus? [Jesus’ ministry will be a call to bear the fruit of righteousness.]
  • How does John’s message provide an appropriate Advent challenge? [It is a reminder of the vision and promise of hope with which we are called to anticipate and live.]
-- Discipleship Ministries (umcdiscipleship.org)

 

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