“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” Matthew 3:7 NIV
I was looking at the scripture references for vipers and the one thing that I learned very clearly is this: Don’t be religious about anything!
Religious: 1.Pious and extreme conformity with outward observances. 2. Sham or hypocrisy. 3. Devoted, unswerving, meticulous. 4. Reverent.
Again, it all boils down to our heart. God does not tell us to be religious always, but to rejoice always! Rejoicing in God is not a journey of conformity. It is a walk of freedom. Take Jesus for example. His power from within was not always obvious from the outside. He did not tread heavily, make demands or put on a show. He simply did what His Father asked Him to do. No show. No fanfare. He just delivered. He knew when to be quiet and when to move forward. He knew when to take time for the things He needed: prayer, celebration, listening, speaking, redirecting. All because He listened so well and was obedient. He stayed focused. He was not distracted by little things. He didn’t spread Himself too thin.
When I thought of a viper, I thought of something to be afraid of. But of course Jesus was not afraid. Neither was John the Baptist. They saw the Pharisees and Sadducees were missing the point. They were off base. Focused on the wrong thing and REALLY distracted by the little details.
I went online to take a look at vipers because I didn’t want this lingering feeling of fear. I found the most interesting video. It is not for anyone squeamish about snakes! I found it so fascinating. I had always thought of vipers as one of the most deadly snakes. The image of one brought an element of terror to mind. In the video I found (see below), it is a battle between a viper and a hungry king snake. Somewhere in the back of my mind I had downplayed the power of the king snake. In the video, you watch a king snake literally hunt down a viper, strike, and devour it. It happens so fast and so skillfully! The viper doesn’t have a chance.
When I looked into the king snake further, I was even more intrigued! Here is what I found. The king snake was dubbed “king” for being a snake that will devour other snakes. It kills by constriction and is known to be immune from the venom of other snakes.
As I reflected on the video and my new education about the king snake, I had a few thoughts. The viper has a very fierce, showy way in its movements and posture (kind of like the Pharisees and Sadducees). It has a reputation to be feared and revered. The king snake (especially the hungry one in this video) is much more subtle in its movements and approach. But it is focused and fast! It is quick to strangle its enemy and is not daunted by its foe. It proceeds with a quiet confidence, the confidence of a victor (like Jesus).
This really put the viper in perspective for me. I can equate Jesus to the king snake. His strength is quiet and strong. Focused. He is not deterred by the enemy. He was always on task to be about His Father’s business. He knew how to go in for the kill whether it was demons, sickness, brokenness, poverty or death. He killed what was harmful and replaced it with something new. He was immune to the venom of others, even on the cross. He was a victor. A conqueror. He knew how to put the vipers in their place and was not intimidated.
Father, thank you for showing me Your might and strength! I pray I will stay focused on you and not be caught up in religious fanfare or practices. Let me not be distracted by the little things. Give me the strength, courage, focus, speed and boldness to always deliver according to Your word, even if it means going up against a viper!
Philippians 4:4, Matthew 12:33-35, 23:32-34; Luke 3:6-8