Exemplifying the faith of Abraham, many of his decedents came to John to repent and be baptized. But the Pharisees and Sadducees, who arrived neither to repent nor to be baptized, were instantly confronted with their fate: “who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Their only escape from the wrath to come was to look to the example of their father Abraham who by faith believed God. But John – or rather the Holy Spirit – exposed their hearts, for they believed themselves to be Abraham’s children, but failed to look to the rock from which they were hewn (Isa. 51). At a later time Jesus would tell them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.”
The axe was laid at the root of the non-fruit-bearing trees while the good trees accepted John’s message. Like the branches that bear no fruit from Paul’s analogy are cut off and others grafted in their place, the stones that were not hewn from the rock now rejoice in that great day when our Lord appeared. “God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” For these stones, representing the same as the branches of the uncultivated olive tree, are grafted in with the faithful remnant and raised up to be Abraham’s children and heirs of the promise. Thus, the hope of the whole world is illustrated in this small but powerful portion of Mathew’s Gospel!