The Weekend Word
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
- Where did we first see John the Baptist (Luke 1) – doesn’t it seem odd that Matthew has him just appearing with no introduction / no background?
- Who were his parents? Mother Elizabeth – Father Zechariah
- What were the circumstances?
- In what days? The gap between the end of Ch 2 and the beginning of Ch 3 is 28 – 30 yrs.
- The Baptist – how did he get his name? Was he the pastor of the local 1st Baptist church in town?
- Baptist / Baptizer = this is what he was known for.
- He came preaching – he was a preacher.
- The wilderness of Judea – where is this? West of the Dead Sea
- Who is this guy? Was he Elijah?
- Must read these passages; – Matt 17:9-13; Malachi 4:5-6; Luke 1:13-17
- John the Baptist was the last of the OT prophets.
2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- Think of this – this is the first prophecy spoken in 400 years.
- When you read the whole message, you realize that after all this time, God’s message is not a message of Comfort – Peace – or Joy
- Look at v.11& 12 – it’s a message of fiery wrath.
- As we get into the next section you will understand why they wanted and needed to kill him & Jesus.
- A shocking message! – Are you saying as child of Abraham we have no free ticket to enter the kingdom?
- Jesus carried on this same message – John 8:39-59.
- Repent = turn around – turn away – making a U Turn
- In Christian usage it is turn your spiritual mind away from other gods and towards Jesus.
- A conversion that affects your mind, will and emotions.
- Look at the simplicity of John’s preaching. He didn’t need to mimeograph copies of his plan; he didn’t bring in his overhead projector or develop a 10 week training program.
- Why should we repent? “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”
- Now here again is the gospel – God at work. Picture this – The Kingdom is at hand. If you’re going to be a part of it, you must get converted. God, in a sense, because of Israel’s sin, had excommunicated the entire nation from the Kingdom; (we will see in further studies how God is done with old Israel) and now he would reintroduce them back into the Kingdom, one at a time, on the basis of personal conversion (as his own New Israel) …They were all outsiders.
- What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
- What is a kingdom = the place where a king rules
- It is the “King’s Domain” – But do not think of it as a place – it is more like a Reigndom – the place where God reigns.
- Where is God? Where does he reign?
- Where is God today? Where is God reigning?
3 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.’”
- Isa 40:3 – “A voice cries:“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
- John the Baptist is now that one.
- Straight paths = no detours, no delays – get repented your sin BEFORE he gets here.
- Get the repentance out of the way now so you are ready to receive from Jesus.
- Think of sin as a big stain on your carpet. What do you do when company comes over? … cover it up!
- What do you do when the carpet cleaning company comes over? … you point it out.
- Jesus is the carpet cleaner.
4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
- Why the symbolism? Does his dress and diet mean something?
- Is he purposely acting like Elijah?
- Can you just imagine meeting this guy?
- Make no mistake – John the B is a judgment preacher.
- What about his diet? Hey to each his own – even in modern society we eat like John. Go to the fanciest of restaurants, they serve the same thing… Order a plate of escargot – what are they? Snails!
- Is he the Elijah prophesied to come?
- Read Malachi 4:5-6 and Matt 11:13-14
- But … John 1:21 = “And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
- There seems to be 6 characteristics of John the Baptist.
- ) Obedience to his calling
- ) Filled with the Spirit
- ) Self Controlled
- ) Humble
- ) Proclaimed God’s Will
- ) Won many to the Lord
5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him,
- What does ALL mean? Whether all means ALL or not is not at issue here – this guy could draw a crowd.
6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
- What is the precedent for this baptism?
- Why? Who told him to do it?
- Baptism means to apply water – to wash.
- Before dinner, a Greek mom would tell the kid to go “baptize your face.”
- Baptism (a washing) for a Jew was only ceremonial and was unheard as efficacious.
- This would have a Jew looking like a common proselyte. On the outside trying to get in – to a Jew, their birth alone was their ticket in.
- As a follow up, we are going to remember from V. 2 – that there is good news “The kingdom of heaven is coming / here (however you read at hand)
- The bad news, you are not ready. (THE LAW)
- But we need to remember that it is not our repentance, or as some would say for us to do an act of repentance – but that it is actually God who repents us.
- Acts 5 – Acts 11 – 2 Tim 2 (THE GOSPEL)
- God does it all; he repents us, justifies us, sanctifies us and glorifies us.