AM Jan 4th Matt 3

January 4th        Matthew 3         B. The Preparation of the King               The preaching of John the Baptist

1: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2: And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3: For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4: And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5: Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6: And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 7: But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10: And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11: I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Christ is baptised by John

13: Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14: But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15: And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16: And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Suddenly Israel’s greatest prophet appears in the wilderness of Judea. He comes with a Divine commission. He comes to call Israel to return to the LORD their God. His message is practical, spiritual and prophetic. He comes dressed in the coarsest of outdoor-wear and he has a leather belt, which like his character is strong and unyielding. He feasts on the symbols of judgment (locusts) and blessing (honey). It was an old fashioned religious revival. There was no advertising campaign, no literature, no newspaper announcements. No TV appearances, He prayed and God sent the people led by the Holy Spirit. People came in their thousands to hear this man call them in the name of God to return to the God of their Fathers. And he baptised them - a Jewish symbolic ritual of how men are to purify themselves in preparation of presenting themselves before the LORD. His preaching tone was forthright and shocking. He called on his converts to show the truth of the Work of God in their hearts in living righteously according to the Mosaic Law. And he told of the Messiah that was to come. Who would be so far greater than himself, that he was to be unworthy to be his lowest servant. He said, he will baptise you in the Holy Spirit and fire. He is thinking of a time in the future when the Messiah will have throughly purged his floor he will gather the wheat into the garner and he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. When Christ came to be baptised of John, John initially refused, because he recognised Jesus as a more righteous man than himself. But Christ insisted and in the act of baptism Christ is empowered by the Holy Spirit for the ministry he is to fulfil. The voice from heaven confirms Christ as the beloved Son in whom the Father delights. 

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