Jesus’ Forerunner: 3: 1-12.
(Read Matt 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-20; John 1:6-8, 15-37).
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth. He was also a cousin of Jesus (Luke 1:36). The significance of John's ministry cannot be overestimated. He was a child of promise. Jesus said of him that there was none greater than John during the Old Testament period. He was sent to prepare the way of the Lord and preached the message of repentance (Isaiah 40:3). John is referred as the prophet sent in the spirit of Elijah and he preached repentance (Malachi 4:5). Repentance means a change of mind that leads to a change of life (Matt 3:8-10). In fact, repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit who graciously creates a desire to change our attitude toward God, self and sin. True repentance leads to salvation (2 Cor 7:10). Those who repent understand that they are sinners and deserve God's punishment. They come to God trusting only in the mercy of God. Faith is the flip side of repentance. John wore the garment of camel hair and a leather belt. His food was locusts and wild honey. Locust was the food of the poorest of the poor. His ministry created great spiritual enthusiasm among people. Even religious leaders came to him to be baptized. John challenged them to prove their repentance by actions. Repentance is more than an intellectual change of mind. The change of heart is what motivates the change of behavior. In Christian life the transformation happens from the inside out. Fruitless repentance is not acceptable to God. Repentance alone will not save anybody but also faith in Christ. Paul preached repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). John baptized those who repented of their sins. John’s baptism is not the Christian baptism (Matt 28:19).
Baptism of Jesus: 3:13-17.
(Read Matt 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34)
John was surprised when Jesus came to him for baptism. Jesus was far greater than John yet he submitted to John’s baptism to fulfill all righteousness (Matt 3:11). Though Jesus was sinless he was willing to identify with sinners whom he came to save. Also, this baptism was a picture of his crucifixion. Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). The baptism by the fire speaks of the coming judgment. The fire which appeared over disciple at Pentecost is a reference to fire that burns up chaff of sin. The unquenchable fire speaks of the eternal punishment unbelievers will suffer in the lake of fire. The word baptism means to dip or immerse in water. In christian baptism believers demonstrate their identification with Christ's death, burial and resurrection. When Jesus went up from the water, the heavens were opened and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Jesus. And a voice from heaven said “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”. This was God's verbal and divine approval of Christ (Matt 17:5; John 12:28). The coming of the Spirit upon Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 11:2; John 1:33). John understood this as a sign that indicates Jesus is the true Messiah. The dove is a symbol of innocence and purity. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ. All three persons of the Trinity are seen here. The Father speaks, the Spirit descends and the Son is baptized. Repentance is a lifelong process. Ask God to give you a desire to share the gospel with others. Christians should never be ashamed of the gospel.