The Baptism of Jesus
JOHN AND THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
Do you remember what our challenge is this year?
- To learn more about Jesus.
- The more we learn about Jesus the more we will become like Him…and that is what we as disciples are to do…we are to become like our teacher.
- Also, I am concerned that a lot of people have been baptized but have never been converted to Christ…and the truth is…if you don’t have Christ you really don’t have anything.
- So, this year our challenge is to learn more about Jesus…and we are going to do that this morning.
Now, in the first two chapters Matthew has told us all these things about Jesus: Jeshua…Savior; Christ-Messiah; Son of David-King; Son of Abraham-the seed in whom all nations will be blessed; Legal heir to the throne; 3 sets of 14 – fulfillment of God’s holy work…Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Confirmed by an angel; confirmed by the prophet Isaiah; Immanuel-God With Us; The star; the Magi-King of kings; the gifts-King, Priest, and Sacrifice, confirmed by the prophet Micah, Hosea, Jeremiah and others…all of these things were a pronouncement…they were God’s way of giving a birth announcement to Jew and Gentile alike that the King of kings and the Lord of lords has come.
Now, here in chapter 3 we learn about the one who was sent to “make way for the Lord”…and the first thing we need to notice is his message. Look at vs. 1-2:
Now in those days John the Baptist (or baptizer) came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- “Repent”…in the Greek that is a pretty strong word and may have more the meaning of “convert.”
- So what John’s message was, was change your hearts back to God…stop doing that which is sinful…break with your evil past…change your heart, mind, and will…make a complete turn around in your life.”
And notice he says, “…for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- It is close…it is within arms reach…great blessings are in store for those who become citizens of it…and probably more accurately it would be “great blessings are in store for those who accept the kingdom…or the rule of God inwardly.
- But for those who did not repent…who do not accept the reign of God in their hearts…John’s message was one of doom; vs. 10
- “The kingdom of heaven it is at hand…and you need to get ready for it…you need to repent.”
- That was his message.
Now, look at vs. 3-4 : For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!'”
4 Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
- At first glance John is a wild eyed, long haired prophet coming out of the desert.
- We know from scripture that he had the Nazarite vow from birth which doesn’t mean much to us in our culture but for the Jews it meant certain dietary restrictions…even beyond the Kosher foods.
- And it meant that his hair was never trimmed…his beard was never cut.
- He wore the clothing of the desert camel…he ate locusts and wild honey.
And what you will see is he was a bold, straight forward preacher of righteousness and holiness…who doesn’t seem to fear anyone.
- What are you going to do to him…take away his house…he doesn’t have one.
- Take away his possessions…he doesn’t have any…he lives in the desert.
- Take away his fancy clothes…he doesn’t have any.
- His preaching is not going to be affected by any of these things.
- He is fearless.
And vs. 5 tells us that people went out to him from Jerusalem…and all of Judea…and the whole region of the Jordan…and I want you to see what he told them…turn to Luke 3 starting in vs. 10:
- John is preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”…and the people ask, “Then what shall we do?”
- And John says, “Don’t use the green robes, use the blue.”
- “If they don’t wear a coat and tie don’t let them in.”
- That is not what John says is it?
- “Some times we strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.”
The people ask, “Then what shall we do?” and John says, “Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise.”
- Develop a heart of compassion, and concern, and share what you have.
And some tax-gatherers also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
- Stop cheating; be fair; do what is right; stop being greedy.
14 And some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”
- Stop using your power and authority to cheat people; stop running scams; stop extorting; stop drumming up false accusations; stop lying; be content with what you have.
Here is the foundational teaching of the kingdom of God…for people to get their lives right with God: Compassion, sharing, giving, fairness, honesty, integrity.
- If you don’t have this in your heart baptism is just wetness.
Now, go back to Matthew 3:6 and I want you to notice something that is very important.
…and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
- Notice the progression…John tells them to “repent”…they then confessed their sins
- And do you see the word “confessed”…in the Greek that word doesn’t mean that they told John what their sins were…what they did.
- What that word means is they “acknowledged that they were sinners…sinners in need of forgiveness.”
- And as they did they were “baptized…immersed in the Jordan River…or water.”
And look at this verse found in Mark 1:4: John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
- Even in John’s day repentance alone was not enough.
- Even repentance and confession of sins wasn’t enough.
- Baptism alone was not enough.
- These people heard the message of John, they were converted in their heart, mind and will, they acknowledge that they were sinners, and they were baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
- The same principle applies today when it comes to forgiveness of sins in Christ.
- In fact, this is illustrated for us in the next few verses…look at vs. 7.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
- The Pharisees…the word actually means “Separatists” or the “Separated Ones”… they prided themselves in their knowledge of the Law of Moses…and they separated themselves from the heathen, the publicans, and from sinners…and even from other Jewish groups who they referred to as “people who do not know the law.”
The Sadducees: They claimed to trace their lineage back to Zadok…a man who shared the high-priestly office during the days of David and who was made sole high priest during the days of Solomon…they were the group to which the high priests generally belonged.
- Both of these groups considered themselves to be holy and righteous in the eyes of God…and most definitely more righteous than the common people.
But now both the Pharisees and the Sadducees come to John “for baptism.”
- Now, if they are so holy…and if they are already “righteous in the eyes of God”…why are they coming to be baptized?
- Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins…it is the result of repentance…of confession of sins…what are they doing?
- Well look at what John says to them:
“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
- “You sons of snakes!”…you are just here because you are afraid of the coming wrath.”
- “Your heart isn’t really centered on God…you aren’t hear to get things right with God…to conform to His will.
- “You are just here to escape from judgment!”
I have seen people be baptized whose hearts were not open to God…their was no conversion…no sincere repentance…and their was no sincere acknowledgement of sins…they were simply baptized out of fear.
- They were baptized because someone convinced them that if they were baptized they wouldn’t go to hell.
- John is saying, “I don’t want you out here getting baptized just because you are afraid…I want to see that your heart is fully rooted…fully devoted to the Lord your God.”
- Is it?
Well, John tells us how you can know…look at what he says next in vs. 8: “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;
- If you are really sincere…if you are earnest about repentance…if you are truly converted in your mind, your heart, and your spirit…it will be evident in your life.
- People will be able to see it.
- Any one can make an outward confession of sin…and many do.
- Any one can be baptized…and many are.
- But genuine repentance must be accompanied by fruit-bearing.
- There must be that inward change which expresses itself outwardly in a God-glorifying conduct.
Vs. 8 again: “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves,’ We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
- These Pharisees and Sadducees thought that because they were descendents of Abraham…that they were destined for salvation.
- But physical descent has nothing to do with it…nationality has nothing to do with it.
- The truth is, salvation is a result of God’s mercy and grace…and a heart that is truly converted to God.
10 “And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees (John expresses a sense of urgency here…the time to repent is right now…judgment it at hand…don’t delay); every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
- There is no guarantee of tomorrow…no one knows when life will come to an end.
11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 “And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
- John message to these Pharisees and Sadducees…in fact to all those who were coming to him was, “The Kingdom of heaven is coming…it is close at hand…and the Messiah is coming…and He will bring the Holy Spirit to some…and judgment, and wrath, and fire to others.”
- “And what you receive has everything to do with your heart.”
Now, vs. 13: Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. 16 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
- Now, we know that Jesus had nothing to repent of for “in Him there was no sin”; 2 Cor. 5:21.
- So why was Jesus baptized?
Well vs. 16 tells us: …for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
- John’s baptism wasn’t from men. Matthew 21:25 and Luke 7:20 tell us that John’s baptism was from heaven…it was the “justice of God.”
- It was the will of God…and when Jesus comes to be baptized He is fulfilling God’s will.
- You see, Jesus’ baptism reveals the second aspect of baptism.
- The first aspect or reason for baptism is forgiveness of sins…and the second aspect is it is an act of obedience to the will of God.
- And His baptism manifested to all that His heart and His life was fully devoted to God and He was ready to begin His work as the Savior of the world.
John came preaching a message of “Repentance…of Conversion…changing the will, the mind and the heart.”
- Repentance was and still is essential today.
- There was no salvation for these people without repentance…and there is no salvation for people today without it either.
- And confessing sin was essential for these people and it still is today…acknowledging to God that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness…and He alone is the one who can forgive those sins.
I have come to believe that through my 20 years of preaching that I have put so much emphasis on getting people into the water…so much emphasis on people being immersed into Jesus Christ out of fear of going to hell…that I have not taught repentance the way the Bible teaches it.
- Repentance is everything.
- Confession or acknowledgement of sin is everything.
- We don’t hear people do that much any more…it is almost a lost thing.
- These people were repenting and confessing sin in such a way that you could see the fruit of it…a changed life.
The holiness of God must begin to affect your life because if you are not repentant before God the water doesn’t matter.
So, to anyone that has not yet been immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…you absolutely need to be.
- But that immersion in His death…into His burial…into His resurrection as sweet and powerful and miraculous as it is…is of no value unless you first repent and turn your heart fully back to God, and seek to be rooted into the very center of His will, choosing a life that glorifies and honors Him.
- And unless you acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness…and that only He can forgive you…without these two things baptism is of no value…all you have done is get wet.
- Think about that.
And for those of us who have come to Christ…there are times when we get caught up in the world…times when we have drifted away.
- And there are times when we need to repent…times when we need to acknowledge our sin…and we need to repent before God.
- Times when we need to realign our hearts and minds, and our will back up with God.
- Times when we need to root ourselves back into the very center of God’s will.
- Think about that as well.
Remember…the kingdom of Heaven is at hand…and those who allow the kingdom to dwell in their hearts…those will receive great blessings.
- But for those who reject it…who refuse it…only the wrath of God awaits you.
- “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees”…now is the time to repent, confess your sins, and be baptized. Will you do that today?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023