MATTHEW CHAPTER 3
Matthew 3:1-12 – John the Baptist Prepares the Way
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
After Malachi there was no prophet until John the Baptist arrived on the scene. His first appearance was in the wilderness of Judea. This was not a deserted area, but part of a country which had a low number of people. From this we learn that there is no place so remote as to shut us out of the visits of divine grace. John the Baptist preached repentance, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”. The word used here is suggesting a total change in the minds of people. a change in the judgment, disposition and affections. Take a moment to consider your minds and your thoughts. Do we require a change in the patterns of our thoughts, do we require to examine our thoughts and actions and align it to the true Word of God? A person who truly repents, transforms their thoughts; and in how you view God and Christ, sin and holiness, of this world and the next. Such a change of mind also produces a change of way, in your life and in your actions.
This is the true gospel repentance, which flows from a sight of Christ, from experiencing His love, and knowing that we receive cleansing from our sins and forgiveness through Him. This in itself should enable us to seek Christ, and an encouragement for us to repent to receive forgiveness through Him. Return to God in a way of duty and He will through Christ return to you in a way of mercy.
Just as in the days of Jesus, it is still very important and necessary to repent and humble ourselves, to prepare the way of the Lord. There is plenty of work to be done to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the people of this world to accept Christ into their lives. So that people may realize the sin in their lives, and bring about a conviction that no one can be saved by your own righteousness, but only through the blood of Jesus Christ. The way of sin and Satan is crooked, but in order to make way for Christ, the path must be straight.
Hebrews 12:13 says “and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”
If we are calling others to come out of their sin and repent, then we ourselves should be living a life pleasing to God, a life of self-denial and contempt for the things of this world and of the flesh. This is how John, being an example of what he preached, he made way for Christ. Many people came to be baptized by John, but only few kept to the decision they made. There are many who hear the Word of God, but there are few true believers. We may attend great meetings and hear good preaching, and be affected by it for a while, but are never subject to the power of it. Those who received the message of John, testified of their repentance by confessing their sins. Only they are ready to receive Jesus Christ as their righteousness, who are brought with sorrow and shame to own their guilt.
The benefits of the kingdom of heaven is now at hand, sealed to them by repentance and baptism. John washed them with water, a token that God would cleanse them from all iniquities showing that by nature and practicing all were polluted, and could not be admitted among the people of God, unless washed from their sins in the fountain Christ was to open.
Zechariah 13:1 “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”
The Pharisees were focused on outward observances, neglecting the more important matter of the moral law and the spiritual meaning of their legal ceremonies. Others were hypocrites, looking holy on the outside, but deeply sinful on the inside. The Sadducees were the opposite of this spectrum, totally denying the existence of spirits and a future state/afterlife. They were very scornful at that time.
Let us remember that there is a wrath to come. Every person must be concerned of this wrath. God does not delight in our ruin, and so has warned us. He has warned us by the written Word, by ministers, by our conscience. Do we repent with our mouths, yet persist in our sinful ways in our hearts? In repenting we become humble and low in our own eyes. This is when we become thankful for the least mercy, we become patient in our greatest storms, we become vigilant of all appearances of sin. We strive to do our best in every duty and be slow to judge.
Let us not put our trust in the outward privileges as we can very easily fall into the way of thinking of our carnal hearts, instead of relying on the commanding power of the word of God. We should be careful of this as a corrupt heart cannot produce good fruit, unless the regenerating Spirit of Christ, graft the good word of God on it. Every tree however high in gifts and honors, however green it may be in its outward appearances, if it does not produce good fruit, it is cut down and cast into the fire of God’s wrath. For if a branch does not produce good fruit, then they are only fit for the fuel.
John shows the design and intent for Christ’s appearance, and was waiting for it. Nothing on the outside can make us clean. No matter the amount of good works we do for display, none of this can birth the need and want of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. Only the purifying and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit can alone produce the purity of heart and those holy affections that comes with our salvation. It is Jesus Christ who baptizes with the Holy Ghost. We can see this in the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit that was poured out on the apostles.
Acts 2:4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
John 7:38-39 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Acts 11:16 “ Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”
Isaiah 21:10 “Oh, my threshing and the grain of my floor!
That which I have heard from the Lord of hosts,
The God of Israel,
I have declared to you.”
True believers are as wheat, substantial, useful and valuable. Hypocrites on the other hand are as chaff, light and empty, useless and worthless, carried about with every wind. There is a day coming when the wheat and chaff will be separated. That last judgment will be the time when they are separated, until that time we are mixed, the good and the bad in the same outward communion. On that day the saints and the sinners will be separated for ever. When we are in heaven the saints shall be together and will no longer be scattered. We will be safe and will no longer be exposed. We will be delivered from the corruption of this world. Hell is the unquenchable fire which is assigned to those who are not redeemed from their sins.
Right now, all this is set before us, life and death, good and evil. Let us make a decision right now, as that choice is ours. Let us choose life, let us choose good and let us choose Jesus Christ who will deliver us from our sin and enter into eternity with him. Let us as we live on this earth, be fruitful.
Matthew 3:13-17 – John Baptizes Jesus
John Baptizes Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
It is amazing to see how the Lord Jesus Christ came in such humbleness, and sometimes even the strongest believers can hardy believe that such a Holy and mighty God, came and became so low that we could have life eternal. Christ does not deny that John also required to be baptized by Him, but yet declares that he will now be baptized by John. We see Christ in a state of total humbleness. Jesus looked on this with a wider view point knowing it was to fulfill all righteousness, to own every divine institution and to show his readiness to comply with all of God’s righteous precepts.
In and through Christ, the heavens are opened to the children of men. When the Holy Spirit descended on Christ, it showed that he was endued with His sacred influences without measure. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, kindness and self-control.
At Christ’s baptism there was a manifestation of the three persons of the Holy Trinity. The Father confirming the Son to be the mediator; the Son solemnly entering the work; the Holy Spirit descending on Him, to be through His mediation communicated to the people.
In Him our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable, for He is the altar that sanctifies every gift as it says in 1 Peter 2:5 “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Out of Christ, God is a consuming fire, but in Christ he is a reconciled Father. This is the sum of the gospel, which we must cheerfully embrace.
If you have never given your life to Christ, and you feel the call of God in your heart. Now is the time to respond and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
You can receive remission of your sins, not by your own works, but through faith in Jesus Christ who already paid the price for us. All you have to do is to accept his sacrifice in your place as a free gift. Take this moment to declare you have accepted the free gift by saying the following prayer:
“God I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me. Amen.”
If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact us and we would love to talk to you about living a life with Jesus as the center of your life.
Bible reading: New King James Version (NKJV)
Resources: Various Bible Commentaries