Saturday, November 13, 2021
Thunder in the Desert!
3 1-2 While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called “the Baptizer,” was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”
3 John and his message were authorized by Isaiah’s prophecy:
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
4-6 John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action. At the Jordan River, those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life.
-Matthew 3:1-6 The Message
The Preaching of John the Baptist
3 Verse 1 Now in those days, John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
Verse 2: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Verses 1-2 studies: When the scripture was written, it was 30 years later since the events we learned about in chapter 2. Then, John the Baptist came to the scene and made his theme as “repent.” Repentance is doing a complete 180, making a change from your self-centered attitude that once upon a time led you to wrong actions such as lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, taking revenge, abusing, and indulging in sexual immorality. When a person repents, you will stop rebelling and start to follow God’s way of living in his word. The first step is admitting your sins. Then, God will receive you and help you live the way you should live. God is the only one that can get rid of sin; remember this! He doesn’t expect us to clean up our lives before coming to him. You come as you are.
Verse 2 study: When God entered human history as a man, that’s when the kingdom of heaven began. Today, Jesus Christ reigns in the hearts of believers. But, the kingdom of heaven can’t be known or recognized until all evil in the world is judged and removed. Christ came as a suffering servant; he will come again as King and Judge to rule victoriously over the earth.
Verse 3: For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
“The voice of one calling out in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!'”
Verse 3 study: Isaiah 40:3 is what is quoted by one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament and one of the most quoted in the New Testament. John and Isaiah were both prophets who urged people to confess to their sins and live for God. Both the prophets taught that the message of repentance is good news to those who will listen and seek healing and forgiveness of God’s love. Those who refuse to listen will not only cut their hopes off, but they will also see it as terrible news.
John made ready the way for Jesus. People who don’t know Jesus have to be prepared to meet him. We can prepare by explaining the need for forgiveness, demonstrating Christ’s teaching by our conduct, and telling them how Christ can give meaning to life. One way to make His path straight is by correcting misconceptions that hindered people from approaching Christ. You may know someone that has an open mind to a relationship with Christ. What can you do to prepare the way for this person?
Verse 4: Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; his food was locusts and wild honey.
Verse 4 study: John was different from other religious leaders from his day. Many were greedy, selfish, and preoccupied with winning the praise of people. John was concerned about the glory of God. John lived differently because he separated himself from evil and hypocrisy. John also wanted to show that his message was new. So John preached and lived it. How about you. Do you practice what you preach? Do people believe that you live by the word by observing you?
Verse 5: At that time, Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the region around the Jordan;
Verse 6: They were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
Verse 5 study: John attracted a lot of people. That’s because he was the first true prophet in 400 years. He blasted Herod and religious leaders and daring acts that fascinated the ordinary people. The one thing John had was solid words for his audience. They are sinners and need to repeat. Like always, his message was powerful and authentic. The people expected a prophet like Elijah (Malachi 4:5; Luke 1:17), and John seemed to be it.
Verses 4-6 studies: People came to hear a preacher who wore clothing that turned people’s heads and ate unusual food. That is some image John has. But some people did come out of curiosity and ended up repenting of their sins as they got to listen to the message as well. People are curious about your Christian lifestyle and values. Use that to your advantage to share eye-opening views of how Christ makes a difference in you.
Verse 6 study: You can see the dirt coming off your hands when washing your hands with soap and water. With repentance, it is a different internal cleansing, and it doesn’t happen right away. John used a symbolic action that people can see: baptism! The Jews used baptism to initiate converts, so John’s audience was familiar with the rite. Baptism is used as a sign of repentance and forgiveness. Repent means “turn,” meaning a behavior change; it’s turning from sin towards God. Have you repented? Can others see the difference it makes in you? Changing life with a new and different behavior makes your repentance tangible and visible.
The Jordan River is about 70 miles long. The main section stretching between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Jerusalem is about 20 miles west of Jordan. It is the river of Israel’s eastern border. Many events took place in the nation’s history. The Israelites renewed their covenant with God by the Jordan River before entering the promised land (Joshua 1:2). Again, John the Baptist calls them to continue their covenant with God, this time, through baptism.
Repentance is the beginning of John’s many teachings in this chapter. As we continue to learn about repentance, let us practice it. One day, we may have to advise others on repentance. It can be an essential step towards their faith in Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen!