Friday, April 15, 2022

Handout - Matthew Chapter 3:1-6 - John the Baptist

The use of John the Baptist by God shows God's desire to bypass the political and religious system to announce His arrival.

Matthew 3:1 - John the Baptist

Matthew seeks to get into Messianic matters quickly. Luke provides us with details Matthew does not. Based on the historical records it can be determined that John the Baptist arrived sometime around 27AD to 29AD (Luk 3:1-3). John was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth who were very old (Luk 1:7). Elizabeth's conception was a miracle (Luk 1:13), and John was filled with the Holy Spirit, before he was born (Luk 1:15) and came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luk 1:17, Mal 4:5-6). An angel came to Mary and told her that Elizabeth was going to have a child (Luk 1:36). Mary visited Elizabeth and the baby who was to be called John leapt in Elizabeth's womb (Luk 1:41). A few months later, John was born and the Lord's hand was with him (Luk 1:65-66). Zechariah recognized his child as the forerunner to the King (Luk 1:67-80).

Matthew 3:2 - Repentance

John's message was repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Repentance - John's understanding of "repent" was the Greek "metanoeo", a change to the thinking process from constant renewal (Rom 12:2). John was telling the Jewish people to prepare for the coming of the King and Kingdom by changing their dead ways of thinking about it taught be the Pharisees and return to pure devotion to God (Rom 8:5-7).

Kingdom of Heaven Near - The "kingdom" in the mind of the Jewish people was the Messianic Kingdom. This kingdom had drawn near because the King was near. This kingdom will be withdrawn due to the rejection of the King, but at this point in our story it is still available (Mal 4:5-6, Mat 11:14).

Matthew 3:3 - Prophecy of John

Matthew firmly connects John the Baptist with a prophecy of Isaiah (Isa 40:3-5). The terms "prepare the way" and "make straight" refers to the customary preparations that would be made for dignitaries. John was telling the people that the Messiah and King was on His way.

Matthew 3:4 - John's Appearance

Appearance - John's appearance and food was not uncommon for one living in the wilderness. The mention of "hair" that John was wearing was common for prophets. Elijah the prophet wore a garment of hair (2Ki 1:8, Zec 13:4). Jesus referred to John as a prophet (Luk 7:24-27, Mal 3:1). The next verse in Malachi is interesting. For although Jesus spoke of Mal 3:1 as fulfilled with the coming of John, Mal 3:2 says that His coming will be a day that cannot be endured. Christ's first coming is in Mal 3:1, and second coming is in Mal 3:2.

Food - The food that John was eating was not uncommon. Locusts were "clean" food that was permissible for Israel to eat. They are eaten even today. Wild honey was also a common food, and could be found under rocks and in the carcasses of dead animals or in underground hives. No big deal should be made of John's clothing or food, as the point being made is that he lived not with the comforts of the world, but with life in the wilderness Lev 11:22, Jdg 14:8-9, 1Sa 14:25-26.

Matthew 3:5-6 - John's Baptisms

John attracted people from all around the surrounding areas, even men of high esteem and rank. Confessing means to "admit" and "acknowledge" sin. It was a proper response and the people recognized their need for salvation. They would have seen the need to do more than just perform sacrificial rituals and to get right in their hearts. Unfortunately, John was eventually accused of being motivated by a demon by the Kingdom rejecting religious leaders Luk 7:30-33.

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