Matthew Chapter 3 is quite a voyage in itself. John the Baptist emerges out of the wilderness drawing large crowds. He preaches of a baptism never before heard of, a baptism of turning away from evil thoughts and actions. John insults the Pharisees and preaches about not even being worthy to be a slave of the one who will come next. Then John baptizes Jesus and God proclaims exactly who Jesus is and confirms His mission.
John the Baptist
John the Baptist: dressed in camel hair clothes, a leather belt, and living off the land. All four Gospels mention the wilderness and in that time, the Bible and teachings all lead to belief that a great prophet would emerge out of the wilderness. The wilderness was also a place where it would be safe to have large gatherings and it would be a place where fugitives or those oppressed from society would feel safe to live.
John’s life style should send a message to us. That sometimes, we need to step out of our comfort zones and live radical lifestyles to share in the Love of Jesus Christ. We need to stand out, we need to preach, teach, expound, and exhort. We need to stand up and proclaim our God. We need to have faith in action and quit sitting around and doing nothing about it. John gave everything he had into ministry. So often times we are so intolerant of changes and don’t want to step out and do anyting radical because we are afraid we might step on someone’s toes. Sometimes God’s call in our lives demand intense sacrifices. John had all the sustenance he needed. He lived a simple life and didn’t need all the luxuries. This passage calls us to examine our own lives, what do we have that we hang on to as needs when it is meerly a want. We need to readjust our life styles and focus on Jesus.
Turn from your evil ways
John preached of turning from evil ways. He said this is not a repentance from a specific sin, but it is turning your life around. Being reborn out of sin and into Life. Make straight the way of the Lord, be prepared to go forth and produce fruit. If your tree doesn’t produce fruit, it will be cut down and be used for firewood. Don’t think that just because you are ancestors of Abraham that you are safe. Your social status or status in life means absolutely nothing.
The specific example of “Brood of Vipers” is used by John. Back in ancient time, viper was scene as an insult, as they are quick to bite and the female kills the male during reproduction. Then the babies come out and are agressive and sometimes kill the mother. Moreover, when addressing brood, thats offspring, so essential John is calling the religious leaders back-stabbing people with evil intentions in their hearts and minds.
Salvation requires a personal commitment to have Jesus in your life and to live off your own fatih. Just because you once said a prayer or you once were baptized does not mean that you are saved. John called these people out of their dreamland and said hey, just because of who you are or who your ancestors are, that doesn’t mean anything. You must be born again. I can make you clean by baptizing you in water and you can be reborn, but you must be anew. You will not be the same person as what you are now. You must be reborn and you must be filled with the spirit, ready to serve the Lord God. Turn from your wicked and evil ways. This baptism is not just a confession of sins, but it is the beginning of a new life.
Not worthy to be a Slave
John proclaims that he is not worthy enough to even be Jesus’ slave! He says I am not even worthy to carry his sandals. He is preparing the way for God with us. See in the time, a servant would have tended to the masters feet, washed them, undone them, and carried them. Sandals were important and to be kept clean because everything was done by walking. But John says I am not worthy to even be this Man’s sandals. John knows he is about to baptize God with us.
Fulfill all Righteousness
As Matthew mentions fulfilling all rightesousness, he is expressing that Jesus is accepting God’s will and is being obiedient. However, as addressed in Chapter 2, Jesus also takes the sin’s for all of Israel, thus this baptism was Jesus sybolically being baptized and repenting for the sins of all of Israel. As such is the case, it demonstrates God’s love for each of us and His grace given freely as well. This ultimately parallels with our lives as well as we should be free to give sacrifically for others in this world.
Three events confirmed who Jesus was and what His mission is. First, heaven opened up, relating to further revelation. Second a Dove decented; a dove being sybolic of God’s spirt. Third, God spoke and proclaimed Jesus to be the Son and the Father is pleased with the Son. The proclamation reveals that Jesus is near and dear to God’s heart and as such this is a huge sacrifice for God to send the Son to the earth for all people’s salvation.
Ultimately faith without action is dead. John practiced radical faith. Living off the land, teaching, preaching, expounding, and exhorting. He lit a fire to make way the path of the Lord. He drew crowds, He challenged religious, political, and social trends. He made ready the path for the one to follow him. He made way for Jesus. We in a lot of ways are called to do the same. We are called to tell the good news to everyone we encounter. We are called to teach, preach, expound and exhort, we are called to challenge religious, political, and social trends that are contrary to God’s will or Biblical teachings. There will be a second coming and in that time, everyone’s heart needs to be ready. God wants each one of us to turn from our evil ways. Be born again, confess our sins and go forth in a life pleasing to God.
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