John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[a]
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Before the ministry of Jesus, there was the introduction of John the Baptist. John was the introducer and forerunner of Jesus Christ.
Between chp2-3, about 28-30 years passed. Now, the time has come for Jesus to start his public ministry, which would culminate on the cross.
In those days, JB came (John the Baptist).
When Jesus was ready to start his ministry.
From the end of the OT to the beginning of the NT is 400 years (inter-testamental period – the “Dark Ages” spiritually – during these 400 years, they never heard the word of a prophet). Now, JB appeared, so finally, the Great Revival was starting. The people considered JB a great prophet, and they considered that the time of the Messiah had come – it had. God was ushering in a new covenant and new era.
JB spoke like the prophets of old – “turn away from sin to avoid punishment! Turn to God for mercy, forgiveness, and approval!” This was a message for all times and places, but he spoke with urgency to prepare the people for the Messiah.
He was a sign-post for the one who was to come.
Behold! See, everybody, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Our calling is similar, like John’s. We can prepare others to receive Jesus as their personal Savior, Lord, King.
How much urgency do you feel? for those who still need to hear the message of Salvation.
Who is JB? Luke 1 – we see the story of John’s birth – he was a miracle child. He was a different case from Jesus, he was born of Elizabeth, his father Zechariah. At that time, Elizabeth was too old and barren – she couldn’t have a child. While Zech was carrying out his duty in the temple, an angel appeared to him and said, “You’re going to have a child – name him John. He’ll have the HS, and go before the lost – he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and turn people to the wisdom of the spirit.”
Last book of OT: Malachi, chp 4:5-6 “See, behold, I will send you the prophet Elijah. He will turn the hearts of their fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the Earth with a curse.”
So, JB was the last and greatest prophet – he was the forerunner for Jesus.
Also the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 43. “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.
JB’s coming is regarded as the fulfillment of the promise to send Elijah. Elijah was one of the most powerful prophets in the OT, and John was the last Elijah.
We can see some common things between Elijah and JB:
#1: Their messages were similar.
Direct, clear, short, to the point.
- Elijah: abandon your idols/false gods, serve the true God.
- JB: turn from your sins, repent, and turn to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
#2: Lived simply in the desert with similar style
1 Kings – Elijah had leather belt around his waist
#3: similar titles
- Elijah = Man of God
- JB = Man FROM God
The key verse in these verses is verse 2:
“Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is near!”
Do you want to go to the kingdom of heaven? YES. Do you want NOW? Right now?
If…not right now…you do not want, honestly.
I said many times, Matthew is the book of the King, the book of Kingship. So, Jesus’ coming to Earth = the appearance of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This is essential to the teaching of Matthew, and is seen 33 times (important about 50 times). This phrase is used ONLY in Matthew – 33 times.
Yes, Jesus is King, do you believe this? Kings have their own people, sovereignty, rule, country, etc. So, the understanding of the idea of the Kingdom of God is very important.
So, let’s make clear 4 things that are important to understand about the Kingdom of God.
#1: It’s a kind of country.
In this world, there are over 200 countries.
In this world, we get citizenship by birth, or by meeting certain qualifications of that government.
In the KOH, only one qualification = by believing in Jesus as our personal King, Savior. So, simply, we can get citizenship in the KOH.
#2: For a country to be a country, we need country, people, government.
For the KOH, we need only Jesus’ kingship. If we have that, then your heart is Jesus’ kingdom. If your family believes, then your home is Jesus’ kingdom. The KOH doesn’t matter about place, but about kingship = wherever he is king = his kingdom.
#3: KOH is very FAR away (we think).
We will go (sometime). But, before we go to the KOH, it comes to us. “Repent and GO!”? No. “Repent, the KOH is NEAR!” It came to us, as Jesus came to us before we went. Jesus knew us, came to us, loved us before we knew him, went to him, loved him.
Luke 7: “Do not say, here it is, there it is, the KOH is in you.”
#4: Some Christians think KOH = only a matter of the future, after death
It is our future hope, but it is also our present reality. The KOH = come already in the past, and comes at present, and is coming in the continual present and will come in the future.
Future hope is SO essential for life, for victory, for power against Satan. But remember, we cannot have a future hope for the KOH, unless we can also enjoy and experience the present reality of the KOH – now, not by sight.
Do you have hands? How far can you stretch out? The KOH is IN your hands.
JB’s main job was baptizing with water (hence his nickname). John’s baptism is for repentance – but Jesus’ baptism is of the HS, for eternal life.
At that time, carrying sandals was a slave’s job. JB says, “I’m not even worthy to be his slave. He must increase, I must decrease. He is everything; I am nothing.”
Jesus will baptize with HS and fire.
We can believe in Jesus as personal Savior, Lord, King. We can accept him only through (by the ministry) of the HS. 1 Cor 12:3 “No one can call Jesus as Lord except by the ministry of the HS.”
We cannot see God except if we believe in Jesus. The Trinity God in 3 persons, but in 1 essence work together in perfect harmony.
“You will be baptized by Jesus in FIRE” (not ON fire, thankfully…)
All believers (whether they want or not) cannot escape that baptism, because he is King of Kings.
This baptism has a positive and a negative side.
There is a PROMISE; and a THREAT.
4 points about fire.
#1: The idea about illumination (light)
The flame of a beacon guides a sailor and traveler. In fire, there is light and guidance. He is the beacon light to lead us to the Truth and guide us Home.
A great, and kind man lights fires in cold rooms. When Jesus comes into our lives, he kindles our heart with a warmth of love toward God and others. Always, Christianity is the religion of kindled hearts.
#3: Purification (and destruction).
Do you want that in your heart? Do you want to be purified? The purified flames burn away falsehood, but leaves truth. When Jesus comes into our hearts, the evil-doers are purged and removed. But sometimes this is through a painful experience. But, if we, through ALL experiences of life believe that God is working ALL things together for good, we will emerge from the fire with CHARACTER. “Blessed are those who are Pure in Heart, for they will see God.”
After his resurrection, Jesus met his disciples and said, “Peace to you, receive the HS. Do not leave Jerusalem, wait for the Promise, the gift of the HS.” After that, they gathered, and prayed in one heart earnestly, and then received the HS. Acts 2 “They saw what appeared to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.”
“When the HS comes upon you, you will receive power and be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.”
v. 12 “His winnowing fork…clear the threshing floor…gather the wheat…burn the chaff…”
Winnowing fork = big, heavy, wooden shovel. With it the grain was lifted from the threshing floor and tossed into the air. When it was done, the heavy wheat fell to the ground and the light chaff blew in the air. The heavy grain was gathered and stored. The light chaff was gathered and burned for fuel (in the fire).
The coming of Jesus necessarily, absolutely, requires separation. We can accept him as king or reject him. We can be for him, or against him. When we are confronted with him, we have to make this choice.
ALL human beings, each person will be separated by their reaction/response to Jesus Christ. It is precisely this choice that determines our final destination.
- For those who accept Jesus and his baptism = warmth, love, holiness, purification, power.
- For those who reject his baptism = punishment, hell, sulfur.
1 Cor 1:8 “To those who reject JC, the message of the cross = foolishness, but to those who accept Jesus, the message = power.”
May God bless all of us to accept Jesus and enjoy the KOH. If your heart = ruled by Jesus as King, no matter what, whatever you do, wherever you go, your heart is the KOH. REPENT. For the KOH is at your hands.