Matthew Chapter 3
John the Baptist the Forerunner:
(Read Matthew 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 the cousin of Jesus (Luke 1:36). The significance of John's ministry cannot be overestimated. John was a child of promise. For this is he who was spoken of by the prophets Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3). 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 (Malachi 4:5). Repentance involves a heart-change that leads to a changed life (Matthew 3:8-10). In fact, repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit resulting a change of attitude toward God, self, and sin. True repentance leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). Faith in Christ is the flip side of repentance. Those who repent understand that they are sinners and deserve God's punishment. They come to God trusting in his mercy. 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. But it produces change of heart and behavior. In Christian life the transformation happens from inside out. Fruitless repentance is not acceptable to God. Repentance alone will not save anybody. 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 (Matthew 28:19). Those who believe in Jesus Christ will have everlasting life. The change of heart will produce the change of behavior.
The Baptism of Jesus:
(Read Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34)
John the Baptist was surprised when Jesus came to him to be baptized. Though Jesus was sinless he was willing to be baptized by John. He submitted to John’s baptism to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:11). Jesus identified with sinners whom he came to save. His baptism was a picture of his crucifixion. Christ baptizes those who believe him with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). The baptism by the fire speaks of the coming judgment. The fire which appeared over the disciples at Pentecost is a reference to fire that burn 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 (Matthew 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 Jesus is the Messiah. The dove is the symbolism for 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 important and is a lifelong process because we are living in flesh and in the fallen world. Ask God to give you a humble heart to repent of your sins and a desire to share the gospel with others. Christians should never be ashamed of the gospel.