Matthew: Repentance, Baptism And The Kingdom Of Heaven

3:1-17 Repentance, Baptism And The Kingdom Of Heaven

Memory Verse: Matthew 3:2

3:1-6 Repent, The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Near

  • 3:1-2 When Jesus was grown (around age 30) there was also a man named John. He went around preaching in the wilderness of Judaea. He called for people to repent. Repentance is a change of mind that produces a change in behavior. It is more than feeling sad for doing something wrong or getting caught doing something wrong. It is realizing the truth, agreeing with the truth and choosing to live out the truth. The reason they needed to repent was because the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This refers to God’s rule over the life of believers. It meant that Jesus was coming to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind. It foreshadows the future eternal state when all believers will live in the eternal kingdom of God. The time for this is near, the Christ, Jesus, is coming.
    Luke 17:20-21; Romans 14:17
  • 3:3 John’s preaching was another prophecy and fulfillment of the coming Christ. The prophet Esaias, prophesied saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” This means: (1) The Voice—the message being proclaimed is the important part, not necessarily the messenger himself. His message is that of repenting because the rule of God is about to be made known through Jesus. (2) Preparation—in old times they would send someone to make a path for the important person to travel on, making sure the road was straight and smooth. This is exactly what John was doing spiritually. He was preparing the way for Jesus. (3) The Lord—In the Old Testament, this verse refers to Jehovah, but Matthew uses it to refer to Jesus, making Jesus equal with Jehovah.
    Isaiah 40:3-5; Luke 1:16-17
  • 3:4 John’s appearance and lifestyle to us may seem strange, but to those who knew the Old Testament, he seemed like a prophet (similar to the prophet Elijah). John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair. He wore a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey as his food. He lived simply and didn’t try to impress anyone through elaborate dress or fancy foods. He focused on the message and task at hand.
    2 Kings 1:8; Malachi 4:5
  • 3:5-6 John’s appearance as a prophet and the message he proclaimed caused a lot of people from Jerusalem, Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan to go out where he was. Many responded to John’s message by confessing there sins and being baptized in the river. We need to note four things: (1) John’s baptism and believers baptism are different. Believers baptism (what we do today) represents when a person has believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for salvation. John’s baptism represented repentance and a desire to life a righteous life while anticipating the coming of the Christ. (2) Baptism originated when the Jews had the Gentile proselytes baptized as a type of ritual cleansing ceremony—probably getting the idea from Old Testament laws about cleansing. John used this ceremony of baptism to show the Jews it wasn’t just the Gentiles who needed to turn to God, but even the sinful unrepentant self-righteous Jews. (3) Therefore, the initial action following repentance was baptism—an outward symbol of the inward repentance—an action of sincerity. (4) Today, the initial action of a person who repents and believes in Jesus is baptism—identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for salvation and their desire to live for Him.
    Leviticus 15:13; Acts 19:4; Romans 6:1-10; 1 Peter 3:21

3:7-12 True Repentance Will Produce Good Fruit

  • 3:7-10 John noticed there were some people who weren’t getting baptized: the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees (legalist) are a religious sect who hypocritically try to follow the law, making their own rules and regulations, and who are proud of their own righteousness after the tradition of man. The Sadducees (liberals) were also a religious sect who denied supernatural things. John scolds them and we learn several things. (1) Vipers—He calls them a deadly snakes because of their message and hard hearts can only kill. (2) He warns there is wrath coming for them and all who live unrepentant lives like them. (3) He calls them to truly repent, the kind of repentance that will produce fruit. Their works were proof that they never repented. Repenting is not a work, but it will produce works. (4) It doesn’t matter who you are related to, your heritage can’t save you. Just like them claiming Abraham as their father couldn’t do anything to save them, our Christian parents or family can’t do anything to save us. (5) Judgment is coming (the axe is laid unto the root of the trees) and those who don’t produce good fruit as a result of repentance will be like a tree that is hewn down and cast into the fire.
  • 3:11-12 John continues to explain the truth to the religious hypocrites and uses three types of “baptism” to explain it: (1) John baptized those who repented with water as a sign of their repentance. But there is one, the Christ, that will come after John and is mightier than John. John is not even worthy to bear His shoes. It is the Christ, and (2) He will baptize those who repent with the Holy Ghost. Today, every believer is baptized with the Holy Spirit at salvation. (Although John doesn’t mention it here, believers’ baptism is when a new believer is baptize in water as a symbol of their salvation—this shouldn’t be confused with the others.) (3) The Christ will also baptize with fire—which represent the final judgement for those who don’t repent—they will be immersed with fire. The Christ has a fan in his hand which is used to throughly purge his floor, separating the wheat (believers) from the chaff (unbelievers). He will gather his wheat into the garner but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

3:13-17 The Only One Who Doesn’t Need To Repent

  • 3:13-17 Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized by John in the Jordan River. At first, John forbade baptizing Jesus, realizing He was the Christ—thus sinless and not needing to repent. John felt Jesus should baptize him instead. Jesus responded saying let it be because it will fulfill all righteousness. Therefore, John baptized Jesus. We aren’t really sure what Jesus meant, except He was being obedient to God’s plan. Nonetheless, we can note a few things: (1) It is possible Jesus who was sinless was baptized to identify with the sinners He came to save. (2) It marks the start of Jesus ministry because he received the Spirit of God. (3) It confirmed Jesus as the Son of God, because God from heaven, said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (4) It testifies to the trinity—God was speaking, Jesus was being baptized, and the Holy Spirit was descending. (5) It authorized all that John said and did as a prophet. (6) It could represent Jesus mission to come, died, be buried and rise again so that He could make us righteous.

Review Questions

  • What was John the Baptist preaching?
  • What was John’s appearance and lifestyle like?
  • True repentance will produce what?
  • John baptized with water but Jesus will baptize with what?
  • Why did Jesus get baptized?

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