and do not presume to say to yourselves [as a defense], ‘We have Abraham for our father [so our inheritance assures us of salvation]’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children (descendants) for Abraham.
And don’t ·think you can [presume to] say to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father [C a claim to be God’s special people].’ [L For] I tell you that God could ·make [create; L raise up] children for Abraham from these rocks.
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said: “Who warned you, you serpent’s brood, to escape from the wrath to come? Go and do something to show that your hearts are really changed. Don’t suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We are Abraham’s children’, for I tell you that God could produce children of Abraham out of these stones!
When John realized that a lot of Pharisees and Sadducees were showing up for a baptismal experience because it was becoming the popular thing to do, he exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to make any difference? It’s your life that must change, not your skin! And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as father. Being a descendant of Abraham is neither here nor there. Descendants of Abraham are a dime a dozen. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.
Do not presume to say to yourselves, We have the yichus (proud lineage), we have the zechut Avot (merit of the Fathers) of Avraham Avinu (our father Abraham). For I say to you that Hashem is able to raise up from these avanim (stones) banim (sons) of Avraham.
If you think that simply hopping in the Jordan will cleanse you, then you are sorely mistaken. Your life must bear the fruits of turning toward righteousness. Nor are you correct if you think that being descended from Abraham is enough to make you holy and right with God. Yes, the children of Abraham are God’s chosen children, but God can adopt as daughters and sons anyone He likes—He can turn these stones into sons if He likes.
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