Good morning! Day 3 of our year long journey through the New Testament. I am already enjoying this very much. Have a great day!
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.”
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
I just love so many things about this chapter. The hunger for God by the people is so apparent in these verses. John, a wild man living in the desert starts making crazy claims about the kingdom of heaven being near by, and people flock to him to confess and be baptized. Why? Why does this happen? I think about every time i’ve seen a person standing on the street corner professing that God is coming soon, and dismiss him as a bit crazy. We’ve all seen those people before, right? So it’s fascinating to me to see the response of the crowds from John’s claims.
And John sure doesn’t hold back, does he? He says it straight, especially to the Pharisees and Sadducees. His message is produce fruit for the kingdom or you will be cut off from it. In other words, following rules and regulations will not get them to heaven but rather true repentance and actions to show it.
And finally one of the greatest scenes in the bible. We see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together simultaneously as God speaks to and about Jesus who was still standing in the water, and the Holy Spirit descending upon Him (like a dove). I wonder how the people reacted to this? It must have been truly awesome.
For me today, it’s a reminder that we need to be sure we producing fruit for the kingdom. It is very easy to get caught up in making sure we are checking all the boxes on our Christian day to day activities. Read my bible, check. Prayed for my meal, check. and so on. But am I producing fruit. Am I more loving, more patient, more kind. Am I seeking God to help me with self control, to find joy in everything. Am I using my gifts to be an active part of the body of Christ to disciple others. I sure don’t want to be cut off at the root.
God, you are so good. Thank you for stories like this that challenge us and at the same time, inspire us and make us look at you in awe. God, today I pray you reveal to me places where i am just going through the motions, and need to work on moving it from my head to my heart. Help me to increase my fruit and help me to have an increased desire to further your kingdom. You are awesome, God. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.