(Today’s post by Chris Queen)

Matthew 3


In Matthew 3, we get to meet one of the Bible’s most unusual characters – Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist. (I kind of prefer the name for him in the Complete Jewish Bible – “the Immerser.” It avoids making him sound like a denominational guy.) God gave John a specific purpose, which was to prime the pump for Jesus’ ministry. As we meet him in this chapter, he’s already at work:

1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”

4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

Crazy, wild man John told people to repent of their sins, and they did it! Even some of the Jewish leaders wanted in on the action, but John had some things to say to them:

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Next, John predicts that the Messiah is coming and will begin his ministry soon. Next thing we know, along comes Jesus, asking John to baptize Him! John does so somewhat reluctantly, and we see the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and hear the voice of God the Father. In a unique moment, we experience the Trinity in one place, and John fulfills his purpose, setting Jesus’ ministry in motion.

You know what strikes me the most about John the Baptist? The man is BOLD! For starters, John didn’t give a rip about what people thought about him; you can tell that from his appearance and eating habits. But then look at what he does. He tells people to repent…and they do! He baptizes these newly rededicated Jews right there in the Jordan! He calls out the Pharisees and Sadducees – something Jesus Himself does on a number of occasions. Then he immerses Jesus, despite feeling (and being) unworthy.

John the Baptist brings to mind one of my favorite verses: “…the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). John could be bold and preach repentance because he himself had repented. He could call out the Pharisees and Sadducees because he lived a life that produced the fruit that those guys’ lives didn’t. He could immerse Jesus in the Jordan because he knew who Jesus was and obeyed His command to baptize Him.

I want to be righteous enough to be bold. That’s a prayer I’ve been praying for myself the past few months, and I pray it for you as well. May we so wholeheartedly strive for repentance, righteousness, and intimate knowledge of Jesus in our lives that we can’t help but be bold about our faith. Hey, if weird old Camel Hair Johnny can do it, why can’t we?

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