Matthew Chapter 3
for this week: Psa 141:2 Let my prayer
be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as
the evening sacrifice.
continue our study this week on the book of Matthew. In last weekís
lesson, we saw how the wise men finally appeared to see the young
child after having traveled for as long as a year. We discussed how
there may have been dozens of wise men rather than the three depicted
in the Christmas traditions. All men (and women) who seek after
Christ are wise. This week we cover one of my favorite chapters in
the New Testament as we study Matthew Chapter 3 concerning John the
Baptist and the baptism of Jesus Christ.
I. The Ministry of
John the Baptist
Mat 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the
wilderness of Judaea,
Mat 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at
Matthew actually skips 30 years between the last verse of
chapter 2 and verse 1 of Chapter 3. We know that John was a special
man born for a purpose just he was to fulfill.
Luke 1:11 And there
appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of
the altar of incense.
Luke 1:12 And when
Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Luke 1:13 But the
angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and
thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name
The angel of the Lord came to Johnís father, Zacharias and
told him about how that he would have a son and he was to name him
John. We wonít take time to read all the verses, but if you remember
Zacharias lost his ability to speak after this, and the day John was
born and discussion was going on about naming the baby, Zacharias
wrote it out on paper that his name was to be John. His voice
returned to him at that time. John was the greatest prophet ever
born of women according to Jesus Christ.
Luke 7:28 For I say
unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater
prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of
God is greater than he.
Mal 3:1 Behold, I
will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and
the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the
messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come,
saith the LORD of hosts.
We read there in Malachi that John was called and prophesied
of by the prophets. His job was to make ready a people for the Lord.
Luke 1:17 And he
shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the
hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the
wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
John was clearly called of the Lord to be a preacher. It is
crucial that a man have a call from the Lord to be in the ministry.
People who are not called should not be preachers as we think of a
minister. All of us, every single Christian, should proclaim the
gospel to the lost. But only those called should hold the office of
Pastor in the church.
Many prophets prophesied of future events, but John
prophesied of things at hand. His place of ministry was in the
wilderness of Judea. This shows how God can call a man both to a
large city, a small town, or even a remote area such as John. All
called ministers of God labor together with God. Only God can give
the increase. Johnís message was clear. He called for men to
repent and return to the Lord. This is one of the most needful
messages of our time. John proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven was
at hand. For a man, woman, boy, or girl to be saved, they must first
see themselves as a lost sinner, repent of the sin, and turn to God
for forgiveness. If a Christian drifts away from the Lord, they need
to repent and draw back near to the Lord. If a Christian does not,
they will face chastening of the Lord. God calls for nations to
repent as he did in II Chronicles.
2 Chr 7:14 If my
people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and
pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I
hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their
Mat 3:3 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.
Mat 3:4 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
Verse 3 speaks of the prophecy given by Isaiah about John the
Isa 40:3 The voice
of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
When people asked John who he was, his answer always was ďI
am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.Ē He called upon those
who heard him to prepare ye the way of the Lord and make his paths
John 1:23 He said, I
am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of
the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
I donít know how well John would fit into the typical church
today. It says he wore camelís hair and a leathern girdle and eat
locusts and wild honey. He might be a little radical for our groups
today. But I think God brought him in a radical way because there
were major radical changes coming, and a man like this would get the
attention of the people.
J. Vernon McGee said this about John the Baptist
The garb in which he
appeared, the figure he made, and the manner of his life, v. 4. They,
who expected the Messiah as a temporal prince, would think that his
forerunner must come in great pomp and splendor, that his equipage
should be very magnificent and gay; but it proves quite contrary; he
shall be great in the sight of the Lord, but mean in the eyes
of the world; and, as Christ himself, having no form or comeliness;
to intimate betimes, that the glory of Christís kingdom was to be
spiritual, and the subjects of it such as ordinarily were either
found by it, or made by it, poor and despised, who
derived their honors, pleasures, and riches, from another world.
1. His dress was
plain. This same John had his raiment of camelís hair, and a
leathern girdle about his loins; he did not go in long
clothing, as the scribes, or soft clothing, as the
courtiers, but in the clothing of a country husbandman; for he lived
in a country place, and suited his habit to his habitation.
Note, It is good for us to accommodate ourselves to the place and
condition which God, in his providence, has put us in. John appeared
in this dress, (1.) To show that, like Jacob, he was a plain man,
and mortified to this world, and the delights and gaieties of it.
Behold an Israelite indeed! Those that are lowly in heart
should show it by a holy negligence and indifference in their attire;
and not make the putting on of apparel their adorning, nor value
others by their attire. (2.) To show that he was a prophet, for
prophets wore rough garments, as mortified men (Zec. 13:4);
and, especially, to show that he was the Elias promised; for
particular notice is taken of Elias, that he was a hairy man
(which, some think, is meant of the hairy garments he wore), and that
he was girt with a girdle of leather about his loins, 2 Ki.
1:8. John Baptist appears no way inferior to him in mortification;
this therefore is that Elias that was to come. (3.) To
show that he was a man of resolution; his girdle was not fine,
such as were then commonly worn, but it was strong, it was a
leathern girdle; and blessed is that servant, whom his Lord, when
he comes, finds with his loins girt, Lu. 12:35; 1 Pt. 1:13.
2. His diet was plain; his meat was locusts and wild honey;
not as if he never ate any thing else; but these he frequently fed
upon, and made many meals of them, when he retired into solitary
places, and continued long there for contemplation. Locusts were a
sort of flying insect, very good for food, and allowed as clean (Lev.
11:22); they required little dressing, and were light, and easy of
digestion, whence it is reckoned among the infirmities of old age,
that the grasshopper, or locust, is then a burden to the stomach,
Eccl. 12:5. Wild honey was that which Canaan flowed with, 1 Sa. 14:26.
Either it was gathered immediately, as it fell in the dew, or rather,
as it was found in the hollows of trees and rocks, where bees built,
that were not, like those in hives, under the care and inspection of
men. This intimates that he ate sparingly, a little served his turn; a
man would be long ere he filled his belly with locusts and wild honey:
John Baptist came neither eating nor drinking (ch. 11:18)ónot with the
curiosity, formality, and familiarity that other people do. He was so
entirely taken up with spiritual things, that he could seldom find
time for a set meal. Now, (1.) This agreed with the doctrine he
preached of repentance, and fruits meet for repentance. Note, Those
whose business it is to call others to mourn for sin, and to mortify
it, ought themselves to live a serious life, a life of self-denial,
mortification, and contempt of the world. John Baptist thus showed the
deep sense he had of the badness of the time and place he lived in,
which made the preaching of repentance needful; every day was a
fast-day with him.
Mat 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all
the region round about Jordan,
Mat 3:6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Notice that when you do things Godís way in Godís plan, there
is great success. It says multitudes came out to hear him, and many
were baptized of him in Jordan after they confessed their sins and
repented. Even the Pharisees and Sadducees came out to be baptized of
Mat 3:7 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?
Mat 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Mat 3:9 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.
John tells these religious leaders of the day to bring forth
fruits meet for repentance. It was not a popular message in Johnís
day, and many donít want to hear it today. Many had the excuse that
they were Abrahamís seed and had no need. Being of Jewish descent was
not enough to save a person. They were of Abrahamís seed, but not
Abrahamís children from a spiritual standpoint.
John 8:37 I know
that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word
hath no place in you.
John 8:38 I speak
that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have
seen with your father.
John 8:39 They
answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto
them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
John 8:40 But now ye
seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have
heard of God: this did not Abraham.
John 8:41 Ye do the
deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of
fornication; we have one Father, even God.
John 8:42 Jesus said
unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded
forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
John 8:43 Why do ye
not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
John 8:44 Ye are of
your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was
a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because
there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his
own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
If a person belongs to Christ then that person is Abrahamís
seed. We become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
Gal 3:26 For ye are
all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:27 For as many
of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Gal 3:28 There is
neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if ye
be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
Mat 3:10 And now also the ax 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.
The ax was laid at the root of the treeÖ only those who bring
forth fruit is permitted to stand. God wants us to be fruitful
Christians and bring others to Christ.
Mat 3:11 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:
John baptized with water but Christ was to baptize with the
Holy Ghost. The baptism he spoke of took place on the day of
Acts 2:1 And when
the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in
Acts 2:2 And
suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind,
and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:3 And there
appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon
each of them.
Acts 2:4 And they
were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other
tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:5 And there
were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under
Acts 2:6 Now when
this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were
confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own
Acts 2:7 And they
were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not
all these which speak Galilaeans?
Acts 2:8 And how
hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Acts 2:9 Parthians,
and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in
Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
Acts 2:10 Phrygia,
and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and
strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Acts 2:11 Cretes and
Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of
Acts 2:12 And they
were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What
Acts 2:13 Others
mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
The Holy Spirit was the mode Christ used to baptize the
church on the day of Pentecost. The only other possible record of
baptism of the Holy Ghost came at that house of Cornelius. Besides
those two instances, all baptisms have been by water. When we are
saved, the Holy Ghost comes and takes up residence inside the
believer. He guides us in our daily walk and convicts us of sin when
we make mistakes.
Mat 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge
his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up
the chaff with unquenchable fire.
One day there will be a separation by the Lord of the saved
and the lost. The wheat speaks of the saved going into garner, where
the chaff is the lost going to be burned.
Barnes Notes on the New Testament said this about verse 12.
cleanse or purify. Shall remove the chaff, etc.
granary, or place to deposit the wheat.
that shall not be extinguished, that will utterly consume it. By the
floor, here, is represented the Jewish people. By the wheat, the
righteous, or the people of God. By the chaff, the wicked. They are
often represented as being driven away like chaff before the wind, Job
21:18: Ps. 1:4; Isa. 17:13; Hos. 13:13. They are also represented as
chaff which the fire consumes, Isa. 5:24. This image is often used to
express judgments, Isa. 41:15: ďThou shall thresh the mountains and
beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.Ē By the
unquenchable fire is meant the eternal suffering of the wicked in
hell, 2 Thes 1:8-9; Mark 9:48; Matt. 25:41.
The Baptism of Jesus
Mat 3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be
baptized of him.
Mat 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized
of thee, and comest thou to me?
Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan, a journey of about 60
miles, to be baptized by John. It is important that we understand
that Jesus did not come like the others to be baptized for remission
of sins. Jesus never sinned and had no need to repent. We are not
really baptized to receive remission of sins, we are baptized because
we have repented and received remission of our sins. The reason he
came is explained in verse 15. Jesus was baptized to fulfill all
righteousness, and to set an example of how we should follow our Lord
in baptism and fulfil all righteousness. Salvation is totally of the
Lord, and we are saved by faith. It is not by works of righteousness
that we are saved.
Titus 3:5 Not by
works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy
he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy
John declares that he is unworthy to do this baptism. He
argues that he is not worthy to baptize Christ. In verse 11 he states
that when Jesus came he was not worthy to bear his shoes. John
declared that Jesus was the Lamb of God.
Mat 3:11 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:
John 1:29 The next
day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of
God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
John 1:30 This is he
of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me:
for he was before me.
Mat 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so
now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he
Mat 3:16 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:
Mat 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased.
John does as commanded, and baptizes Christ. At this point,
we see the Holy Trinity in one place. Jesus, the Son of God, is in
the Jordan River being baptized by John. The Holy Spirit descends in
the form of a dove and lights upon Christ. Then we have the voice of
God the Father speaking from heaven. He declares Jesus to be the Son
of God and declares that God is well pleased with Christ.
The Holy Trinity is a clear doctrine in the Word of God.
John had been told that Jesus could be identified by the Holy
Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and abiding on Christ.
John 1:32 And John
bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a
dove, and it abode upon him.
John 1:33 And I knew
him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto
me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on
him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
John 1:34 And I saw,
and bare record that this is the Son of God.
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4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth
more and more unto the perfect day.
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Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Each act spreads, and many will be
Matthew, Matthew Henryís
Commentary on the Bible,
(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.