The aim of this passage is to cause us to learn of John the baptist’s ministry of calling Israel to true repentance in preparation for the messiah who would distinguish the good from the bad.
John calls Israel to repentance in preparation for the Messiah (Mat 3:1-6)
Jesus is the Messiah that we need but not the one that our flesh desires.
John the baptist lived in the wilderness of Judea where he fed on locusts and honey. He wore clothed made with camel hair and a leather belt. There in the wilderness, he proclaimed that people needed to repent because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. All the people from Jerusalem, Judea and Jordan came to him to confess their sins and be baptized.
In Isaiah 4:3 the scriptures say, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.’“. We also read in Malachi 3:1, “‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Considering the number of people that came to John, it is clear that they believed he was the one spoken of in these verses and it was the time of the Messiah’s coming. It is sad that when Jesus was finally revealed to them, they crucified Him because they believed that the Messiah was to be an earthly king. Jesus did not meet their expectations.
What are your expectations regarding Jesus Christ?
John rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees for their hypocrisy (Mat 3:7-10)
True repentance is accompanied by a change in actions.
Some of those that came to be baptized were Pharisees and Sadducees. John saw through their outward show of righteousness into their wickedness. He rebuked them for not showing fruits of true repentance and cautioned them not to assume that they would be part of the kingdom of heaven just because they were children of Abraham and God had made a covenant with Abraha. God could raise children for Abraham out of stones if He desired it. John cautioned them that judgment was coming and if they did not produce fruits they would be destroyed.
Saying sorry is easy but a change of attitude to accompany these words is hard. The Pharisees and Sadducees believed that they Messiah was soon to come and since John preached repentance and baptism, they came for the ritual. To them, this was a religious act like circumcision and nothing more. It was not accompanied by a spiritual change. In Romans 2:28-29 we read, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Being immersed in water would make no difference to their relationship with God if they remained the same on the inside.
What fruits has your life in Christ produced?
John speaks of the Messiah’s work of distinguishing between the righteous and unrighteous (Mat 3:11-12)
Obedience to Jesus Christ is the standard that differentiates the good from the bad.
John went on to declare that the Messiah, would come to baptize the world with the Holy Spirit and fire and that in His coming, He would separate the grain from the chaff and the chaff would be burnt in an everlasting flame.
Later in Mattew 10:34-39 Jesus will say, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The reason Jesus Christ’s words are so dividing is explained in John 3:19 where we read, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
What is your reaction to the words of Jesus Christ? Do you feel drawn to Him?