Our scriptures this Sunday are Isaiah 11:1-10 and Matthew 3:1-12.
At first glance, Isaiah seems more hopeful than Matthew. Isaiah speaks of new growth, a new leader, and a new world where all will dwell together in peace. On the other hand, John the Baptist in Matthew seems to give us a bleaker picture of what’s to come. Yet, both point out a message that may be hard to accept: Before there is peace, pruning must happen.
John the Baptist explicitly states what the pruning looks like in Matthew. The ax is about to chop down the trees and the fire will consume the husks (dry, leafy exterior of certain fruits and vegetables). If you work with plants, this image can easily resonate with you. Before there’s any significant growth, there has to be the pruning of a tree. Before anything good can come from a plant, the weeds must be taken out.
The same goes for our lives. Before there can be any peace in our lives, pruning needs to happen. The weeds must go. All the impurities need to be consumed by the Holy Spirit’s fire.
Ultimately, this goes for creation, too! Before there can be any peace, pruning must happen. Once this pruning that John the Baptist speaks of happens in our lives and throughout the world, then can we live the Peaceable Kingdom as found in Isaiah 11. While the pruning can be painful, it gives way to a more just, peaceful, and greener world that God desires for us. This world in Isaiah is a world where there is no room for death, evil, and war. It is a world where all live together as one.
Friends, believe this Good News!
Pastor T. Wes Moore