To follow Jesus in the waters of baptism is to publicly acknowledge our separation from sin, determination to bring forth fruit unto God, and consecration to His service.
1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 ¶ But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
13 ¶ Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 3:1-2 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 3:3-10 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 3:11-17 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 3:1-12 – The Herald Prepares the Way
Matthew’s Gospel heralds the Kingdom. We are allowed to see and listen to the forerunner, whose voice again awoke the hearts of men with prophetic utterance after a silence of four hundred years. He leaps into the arena with the suddenness of Elijah.
His message was twofold—the need for repentance and the announcement of the nearness of the Kingdom; it thrilled his generation with a strange wonder and interest. All of the southern part of the country seemed to empty itself into the Jordan valley. Yes, if a man is not a reed shaken by the wind, not effeminate in court dress, not a copy but an original, who speaks what he sees and knows of God, men will come to Him in every age.
To us also John the Baptist must come, if we shall properly appreciate the Redeemer. We must expose ourselves to the fire, the ax, the winnowing-fan, that we may learn what we really are and come, like Paul, to reckon our own righteousness as loss, if only we may win Christ and be found in Him. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 3:1—In those days came John the Baptist.
Yes, these records are true to all time. You tell me that they happened nineteen centuries ago. Certainly; but they happened yesterday, and are happening today. Remember that He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. He was, and is, and is to come. Christ was born into the world, but He is always being born into the hearts of men in Regeneration. John preceded and announced his advent in the wilderness of Judaea; and he is always preparing his way into the hearts and lives of men. It is doubtful whether Jesus ever comes into the heart of mature manhood without the previous work of a John the Baptist. Of days of conviction of sin, of remorse, of repentance, we may truly say, “In those days came John the Baptist.”
John the Baptist is sadly needed today. Much of what we call Christianity is but Christianized heathenism. It glozes over covetousness, luxurious self-indulgence, compliance with fashion and worldliness; it admits into its high places men who thrive on the oppression of the poor; it condones the oppression of the native races, the sale of opium and spirits, the shameless traffic in impurity; it rears the ideals of the world in the place of the changeless cross of the slain Christ with its divine sorrow and blood. Ah, we need that John the Baptist should come with his stern words about the axe, the winnowing-fan, and the fire. Nothing less will avail to prepare the way for a new coming of Christ.
Each age has had its John the Baptist. Now St. Bernard; now Savonarola; now John Knox. With sonorous, ringing voice the herald has prepared the way of the King: “He cometh to judge the earth” (Psalm 96:13)! —Our Daily Homily
Matthew 3:13-17 – Baptized with the Spirit
While John was denouncing the sins of others, he was very conscious of his own. He melted in holy humility before the one nature in which his keen eye detected no trace of impurity, and he strenuously strove to forbid the incongruity of his polluted hands baptizing so pure a being as he felt Christ to be.
Our Lord accepted the disclaimer but overruled it. He alone of all holy men had no consciousness of sin. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth”, I Peter 2:22. As God’s designated Lamb, He was narrowly searched, but those who knew the most about Him were compelled to attest His innocence and purity. Yet He was baptized that He might assume the sinner’s guilt, standing with him and for him and identifying Himself with his lot. Then He was anointed by the Spirit, and attested by the Father’s voice. Probably only John and He were aware of these celestial tokens. See John 1:32. But let us stand beneath the same chrism which made Him the Christ. See I John 2:20, 27. —Through the Bible Day by Day