Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.” This week he covers Matthew 3:1-12, retelling the beginnings of John the Baptist’s ministry and His prophecies about the arrival and the roles of the Messiah.
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
MATTHEW’S THREE BIG THEMES
1) Jesus is the promised Messiah.
2) Jesus is the new Moses, the new authoritative teacher and prophet of God.
3) Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, not against us.
About 28 years passes between the last verse of Matthew 2 and the first verse of Matthew 3.
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying … ~ Matthew 3:1
These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. ~ John 1:28
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. ~ Matthew 3:2
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain— for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation” … ~ 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’” ~ Matthew 3:3
A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. “Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” ~ Isaiah 40:3-5
Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. ~ Matthew 3:4
THREE NAZARITE VOWS
1) Abstaining from all products of the grape, including the wine or the fruit, fresh or dried.
2) Allowing the hair of the head to grow, unharmed by a razor.
3) Abstaining from coming near a dead body to avoid defilement.
THE ESSENES (John likely belonged to this sect.)
Another sect of Judaism, smaller than the sects of the Pharisees and Saducees, but still composed of many thousands. The Essenes lived in various cities but congregated in communal life dedicated to voluntary poverty, daily mikveh ritual cleansing (a daily baptism of sorts, immersing themselves if the water was deep enough or kneeling down in water and pouring it over their head in shallow water, and asceticism (their priestly class practiced celibacy). Think of them similarly to monks.
Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. ~ Matthew 3:5-6
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” ~ Matthew 3:7
Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. ~ Matthew 3:8-9
Being in a church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car or being in a McDonalds makes you a hamburger. Holy standing comes from holy living.
But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” ~ Luke 19:40
The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. ~ Matthew 3:10
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. ~ Matthew 7:19
As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; ~ Matthew 3:11a
He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. ~ John 13:12b-15
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. ~ Matthew 3:11b
His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. ~ Matthew 3:12
1) Don’t sit on the fence. There is no benefit in being religious. Repent and follow Jesus now, while there is still time. The only thing that counts is repentance and obedience. We need to be true Christians in deed, not just in name.
And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. ~ 1 Samuel 15:22
2) Pray for and share the Gospel with your Friends, Relatives, Associates and Neighbors (FRANs).