John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”
Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“I baptize you with water for 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. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
The Baptism of Jesus
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3 Commentary
by Hank Workman
John the Baptist was one unique guy. Today we would say strange on many fronts. From his odd clothing to the wild look he had, he was the new guy on the scene of Israel that drew people to his message. 30 years had passed since Jesus’ birth. Over 400 since God had spoken to His people. His arrival on the scene caused quite a stir. God was on the move.
From his unique birth to a couple unable to have children to the proclamation before he was even born he was to raised like a Nazirite, God had set him apart for ministry. He knew from the beginning He had a very important role in the Kingdom of God. Luke tells us he was in the desert when God’s plan was given legs. He was waiting and ready.
The irony to all of this was John held no power or prestige. His looks didn’t fit the bill as to one who would be used. But John spoke with the clearest authority and people were stirred by the Holy Spirit and moved by what he had to say. His challenge was not politically correct as we would say today. He called people to repent and turn from their sins. He called them to be baptized. All the while he never drew attention to himself but God and ultimately his cousin, Jesus. People responded in droves.
John knew his main role was to point others toward the Christ.
For each and every one of us, we have a purpose. We have a calling and it is much the same. We are to point others toward Jesus. As John quoted Isaiah 40 about “preparing the way for the Lord” so this is our commission too. People who do not really know Jesus (they’ve heard but don’t know – there’s a difference there) need to be prepared to meet Him. That preparation comes in many forms. Yes, from our words but also through our actions. Today most certainly our actions as Believers often resonate much clearer than the words we use. We not only are called to tell others of their need for forgiveness but demonstrate it as well.
Within the passage of Isaiah and the words John used he not only said we were to prepare the way but make straight the paths for Him. That’s an interesting thought, no? Our ability to make paths straight definitely is the work of the Holy Spirit but we do have a role as well. We are His hands and feet. Making paths straight is working through others’ misconceptions that might be hindering them from Christ. Making paths straight is walking alongside others in all their struggles and hang-ups, showing them a better way.
Truly the verbiage brings to mind the construction of a great road for the arrival of the King. It’s filling in the potholes, knocking down the hills and roadblocks that are hindering this great highway’s construction. Different environments must be dealt with for the highway to be built. The word picture is amazing and beautiful.
Road construction is expensive. On the spiritual level, it is much the same. It costs.
Where are you preparing the way of the Lord for others? Where are you proclaiming in the wilderness of someone’s life the hope only found in Jesus?
Matthew 3 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Pictured is the traditionally accepted site (the Jordan River) for the baptism of Jesus. As I read this chapter, there are many questions that come to mind. Why did Jesus have to be baptized even though He was without sin? Why did God speak audibly to Jesus and all those who were present?
Why did Jesus need to be baptized? He tells John the Baptist exactly why. He says, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In the same way that baptism today is a way for us to identify our lives with Christ publicly, Jesus was identifying himself with us, people who didn’t deserve a Savior, and fulfilling all righteousness by doing so. In the same way that He offered Himself for a world that didn’t deserve it, He asks us to do the same.
It is also important to understand that Jesus was validating John the Baptist’s ministry. The people who were following John now understood that his ministry was truly from God and that all he had spoken would come true.
But the most powerful moment in this story is God’s words that are spoken over His Son. What does the Father say to the Son? “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” In that simple statement, God has filled His Son with purpose, identity, and affirmation. He is prepared for ministry. The Kingdom of God has been unleashed upon the kingdom of man.
On top of all this, Jesus’ baptism was a fulfillment of prophecy.
“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”Isaiah 42:1 NASB
“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.Psalms 2:7 NASB
The immensity of this proclamation by God is crucial. It forever ties Christ to His Father in Heaven, sending a clear message to both humanity and the spiritual realm. We know this proclamation had significance in the spiritual world because the very next chapter, Satan quotes this precise phrase, “…if you are the Son of God…”
Let’s unpack that final thought and make it personal. John prepares the way. Jesus is baptized. God speaks. Everything seems to be just as it should be. But Satan is watching. After Jesus’ identity is affirmed by God, Satan immediately begins poking holes in this truth. Now ask yourself, do you think this is any different for you? In other words, we should not be surprised when Satan comes knocking after a mighty encounter with our Father in Heaven.
God’s voice was the only voice Jesus needed. It was the only voice He followed. When we are locked into God’s truth in His Word and in prayer, we should expect to face adversity from the enemy. Jesus received the ultimate affirmation and was immediately and relentlessly tested by Satan. We must stand firm on the promises that God has spoken over our lives!