John the Baptist (3:1-12)
John and his ministry (1-6)
Warning to the
Pharisees and Sadducees (7-10)
Christ and His ministry (11-12)
The Baptism of
and John’s consent (15)
The baptism and
God’s approval (16-17)
repent, kingdom of heaven, prepare, confessing their sins, baptize, produce
fruit, Holy Spirit, fire, righteousness, heaven was opened, beloved Son.
2. Ax, trees,
fruit, carrying of sandals, winnowing fork, threshing floor, wheat and chaff,
gathering into the barn, unquenchable fire.
descriptions of John are very similar to those of Elijah (2Kgs 1:8). He was in
fact the Elijah that was to come to restore all things (Mt 17:11-13; Mk
9:11-13; Lk 1:16,17). His
attire and diet reflected his simple and harsh lifestyle (Mt 11:8,18). His life and actions conformed to his message of
2. He was the
voice because he proclaimed repentance. He was in the desert—the Desert of Judea. He was a forerunner who prepared
the way for Jesus. He prepared the way by making the people’s hearts ready to
accept Jesus and His message. Through true repentance and baptism, the people
turned from their sins to God’s righteousness. John foretold of the coming of
the one who was greater as well as the nature of Jesus’ ministry. John’s
baptizing of Jesus also served as an announcement to the people that Jesus was
the one they ought to accept and believe. He even directed his disciples to
their new master (Jn 1:35,36).
3. Many people
took pride in their heritage as the children of Abraham (Jn
8:39a). But 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.
4. The kingdom of
heaven is not a physical establishment. It is an eternal kingdom for God’s
people which Jesus Christ inaugurated by His teachings, works, and redemption.
The kingdom of heaven is found in the heart of men (Lk
17:20,21). The coming of God’s kingdom refers to God’s
rule in people’s hearts. Those who accept and obey the gospel message will be
in the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven was near in the sense that
God’s kingdom was coming to the people through Jesus’ ministry and saving
5. A voice has no
form or identity. John clearly knew his role as a forerunner. He did not want
to vie for any authority or glory. He faithfully announced the coming of the
one who was greater than him and directed everyone’s attention to Jesus (Jn 3:25-30). A voice in the wilderness reflects the
insignificance of its presence. Instead of being spread in the city squares, it
echoed in a desolate place. But the unmistakable voice in the wild drew people
out of the cares of their busy environments into the lonely desert where they
could focus on their need for repentance.
hypocritical actions and lifestyle of the Pharisees and Sadducees were as
deadly as vipers’ poison. They misled the people, killed the prophets, and
placed on people heavy burdens that God did not require. Jesus’ words to them
were just as harsh. He called them the brood of vipers and descendants of those
who murdered the prophets (23:31-32).
is demonstrated in accepting admonition with humility, regardless of how harsh
the rebuke might be. If these candidates for baptism were able to accept John’s
words and change their ways, that would show that they were truly repentant.
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 (see 13:37-43). In the same way, Jesus’ ministry will
separate the true believers from the unbelievers (21:42-44; Rom 9:30-33; 1 Pet
2:7,8). Believers will be gathered into God’s kingdom.
Unbelievers will be rejected.
8. The Greek word
for “repentance” literally means “change of heart.” Repentance consists of
sincere sorrow over sin (2Cor 7:10,11), confession (Ps
32:5), and change of action (3:8; Acts 26:20). Repentance is an expression of
faith in God and obedience to His commands.
According to the
Lord Jesus, the kingdom
of God will be taken from
the unrepentant and given to those who will produce its fruit (21:43); and it
is those who obey and conform to God’s righteousness who will be worthy of
God’s kingdom (21:28-32). Therefore, repentance is a necessary step in entering
the kingdom of heaven.
9. The baptism of
the Holy Spirit points to the giving of the promised Holy Spirit starting with
Pentecost (Acts 1:5; 11:15,16). The Holy Spirit is
also the spirit of judgment and spirit of burning that cleanses the people of
God (Isa 4:3,4). According to John 16:8-11, the Holy Spirit will convict the world
of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment. God’s word is
also like fire, testing men’s hearts (Jer 23:29).
When Jesus comes, He will be like a refiner’s fire (Mal 3:2). Jesus’ ministry
will test the hearts of men to see whether they were worthy of God’s kingdom.
Whoever accepts Christ and pays the cost of being a disciple will be able to
come into His kingdom.
10a. In addition
to being an announcement of Jesus as the Messiah, the baptism of Jesus was to
fulfill all righteousness. “Righteousness” refers to meeting God’s
requirements. God’s requirement that Jesus be baptized may be a fulfillment of
the requirement for priests, who were to be washed before their service (Ex
29:4). It could also be an example for all believers, to show that we must be
baptized and receive the Holy Spirit to become the children of God (Gal 3:26,27; Rom 8:16).
dedicated His entire life to fulfilling God’s righteous requirements. He
ultimately fulfilled all righteousness by offering Himself as a sacrifice
pleasing to the Lord. Incidentally, by consenting to Jesus’ request, John also
fulfilled God’s righteousness.
11b. The opening of the heavens may be symbolic of the
reconciliation between God and men which was made possible through Jesus. The
anointing of the Holy Spirit was a sign that God had sent Jesus to the ministry
(Lk 4:18). The descent of the Holy Spirit and the
voice from heaven served as seal of approval that Jesus was “the beloved Son.”
Although He was greater than John, He asked John to baptize Him.
did not rebuke John for hesitating to baptize Him. He spoke with grace and
reason. Sometimes, we tend to rebuke others harshly when we think that we are
in the right. We ought to learn to be as gentle as Jesus and invite others to
see and obey God’s will with us.
was baptized to fulfill all righteousness and therefore received God’s
approval. We also need to fulfill all of God’s commands to be His beloved