Read: Matthew 3
Matthew 3 highlights the work of John the Baptist as the forerunner of Christ. His mission was to preach the kingdom of God and call people to repentance. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets and described as the greatest of them all. He is the Elijah-type figure of the New Testament, proclaiming hope and forgiveness through Christ. The chapter also highlights the baptism of Jesus by John.
The mission of John the Baptist was to preach repentance and set the stage for the formal ministry of Christ. This work angered many of the so-called theologians of his day who were convinced that they were safe because of their ethnic roots. That, of course, was not the case. Those people had the truth, and they spoke it, but their hearts were far from God. Therefore, John preaches hope in Christ and doom to all who reject him.
The baptism of Jesus receives much discussion. What is important to note is how Jesus identifies with sinners. Of course, Jesus did not need to be baptized in the sense that we are baptized. Yet, Jesus stands in the place of sinners, baptized by a sinner, that he might be anointed beyond measure with the Holy Spirit and accomplish the work of redeeming his people.
- Repentance is a gift of God and one that should cause his people to rejoice. True faith in Christ is not mere words but actions. It is not a lineage but a heart turned from stone to flesh.
- As Jesus identifies with sinners in his baptism, he also takes to himself sin for his people. He who knew no sin became sin for us.
- The nature and characteristics of John the Baptist (3:4)
- Compare and contrast the baptism of John and that of Christ (3:11-12)
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