The Voice in the Wilderness
Bearing Fruits Worthy of
Coming of the Mightier One
Word of God, wilderness, baptism
of repentance, remission of sins, prepare, salvation, brood of vipers, baptize,
bear fruits worthy of repentance, One mightier than I, Holy Spirit, fire.
2. These words are reminiscent of
the opening words of the OT prophets (Jer 1:1-3; Hos 1:1; Amos 1:1). In other
words, John was a prophet sent by God. In fact, he was the last of the OT
prophets (Lk 16:16)
This statement is significant
because after a long period of prophetic silence, God’s word had finally come
to the people once again. Not only so, this divine oracle would pave the way
for the coming of the Savior.
3b. John’s baptism was a
preparation for the coming of the Lord Jesus. It was a baptism of repentance
that led people to Christ. But after Jesus came, the people must put their
trust in Christ, through whose blood we can receive atonement. Therefore, after
the resurrection of the Lord, those who had accepted John’s message must also
be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
4. Through his preaching and
exhortations (cf. 18), John would remove the obstacles in the hearts of the
people (symbolized by valley, mountain, crooked places, and rough ways) that
would hinder the gospel of Jesus Christ.
5a. This term exposes the
inherent wickedness of the people, who were also the descendants of those who
killed the prophets (cf. 11:47-51). The Lord Jesus also called the scribes and
Pharisees brood of vipers (Mt 23:31-33).
5b. Impending judgment on the day
of the Lord (Isa 13:13; Zeph 1:14-15; Rom 2:5; Col 3:6; 1Thess 1:10).
6. Bearing fruits of repentance.
i.e., speech and conduct that demonstrate a changed heart and reflect God’s
nature (Rom 6:1-4; Gal 5:22-25; Eph 4:20-24)
7a. Many people took pride in
their heritage as the children of Abraham (Jn 8:39a). As descendants of God’s
covenant, they believed that God would never reject them.
7b. John told them that God could
choose to raise up children for Abraham from the stones. In other words, if
they were unrepentant, they would be rejected by God despite their physical
lineage. God could easily raise up others to be the descendants of Abraham and
still fulfill His promise to Abraham.
8a. He would forsake them and
cast them into the fire of His judgment.
8b. These words carry a sense of
urgency. God is ready to reject the unrepentant anytime. We must repent immediately
before we exhaust God’s mercy.
10. He would send the Holy Spirit
as the Counselor. The work of the Holy Spirit has the effect of fire. When the
Spirit comes, He will judge the world (Jn 16:8-11) and purify the believers
(2Thess 2:12; Isa 4:4). While John’s ministry called people to repentance,
Christ ministry would sanctify and renew the life of believers. Therefore,
Christ’s ministry would be “mightier” than John’s.
11. Palestinian farmers used winnowing forks to
separate the wheat from the unwanted chaff. This process is used to refer to
the judgment, when God will separate the righteous from the wicked (cf. Mt
13:37-43; 47-50). In the same way, Jesus’ ministry will separate true believers
from unbelievers (Mt 21:42-44; Rom 9:30-33; 1Pet 2:7-8). Believers will be
gathered into God’s kingdom. Unbelievers will be rejected and cast into eternal