3:1 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 ax 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."
On Sunday I dealt with this text from the perspective of the connection with John the Baptist and Jesus, and how they both preached the same message, “REPENT!”, though with differing styles. Today, I’d like to focus on the phrase, “bear fruit worthy of repentance.” Do you understand this phrase?
I think it means that when we “repent” or turn from walking away from God and walk toward God, then we will produce a “fruit” that is worthy of being called repentance. It has been said before and bears repeating, “words are cheap.” To say that we want to change and re-order our lives and priorities, but not doing so, is not worthy of the call to repentance. The proof is in the pudding.
The papaya tree is a fascinating tree because sometimes there will be a papaya tree that didn’t bear fruit at all. It will go as far as flowering, but those flowers never produce fruit. It isn’t until the head is cut off, will it start growing again and produce fruit. There is probably a good scientific explanation for that – however for the purposes of this message, sometimes there are things, situations, people even, that we have to cut away from our lives in order for us to bear fruit.
(Arlette D. Benoit Joseph, https://episcopalchurch.org/library/sermon/bear-fruit-worthy-gift-repentance-%E2%80%93-advent-2-2016
The call of Jesus, and John the Baptist, is to repent and to bear the fruit worthy of being called repentance. And, there may need to be some pruning in our lives for the fruit worthy of being called repentance to come forth. What are the “things, situations, people even” that need to be trimmed from your life in order for you to bear the fruit worthy of being called repentance? Every tree that does not bear fruit, you see, is cut down and cast into the fire. This is a message with urgency and with long-term ramifications.