"Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance..."
I highly doubt that John the Baptist would be invited to preach at a Presidential inauguration. This is not intended as an insult to those called upon today to such high honors. But spend some time thinking upon the message John preached in Matthew 3:7-12 and it becomes clear he was not interested in impressing the religious or political leadership of his day. I wonder if any preacher today, given the opportunity to preach to America, would tell our nation to "flee from the wrath to come." Yes, there are a few, but we hardly know them.
John the Baptist was not interested in pandering to the wealthy, the influential, or popular people of his day. In fact, his radical message was virtually this: "Guess what...God doesn't need you!" For he says to the Pharisees, and everyone else who cared to listen, "God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones (vs. 9)." Not many TV evangelists would get far today with the message "God doesn't need you or your money..."
John wasn't looking to improve his social or economic position to make the gospel more attractive. "Now John himself was clothed in camel hair... (vs 4)." No Armani or Brioni suit for him. Modern preachers seem intent to impress their congregations with the best this world has to offer. John was more interested in what the next world had in store.
John wasn't worried about being "negative" or damaging the precious "self image" of his hearers. He wasn't ashamed of the cross or afraid to lift the sewer lid from off the top of man's naturally proud heart and say "repent!"
John didn't shy away from the doctrine of hell all too frequently forgotten in modern churches where such subjects are deemed "unworthy" of a God of pure love. John said "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
John wasn't full of himself. Too many modern ministries seem to be nothing but monuments to man. John would have none of it. "He who comes after me is mightier than I (vs. 11)."
Oh my soul...now let me turn the light of these truths upon my own heart. Am I any different? Would I dare to be a John today? Do I spend more time in repentance...or in justifying my sin? Do I want the best of this world...or am I content with Christ and eager for the life to come? Do I want to be popular...or do I want to be holy?
May the Lord teach me that I am just one of those stones of which John spoke, whom God in His infinite grace raised up and gave life and joy and hope through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing..."
Soli Deo Gloria