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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 3

Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the BibleBox on Selected Books

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Jesus Was Baptized By John

Matthew Three

Matthew was inspired by God to skip about thirty years in the life of Jesus between Matthew two and Matthew three. In Matthew three he introduced us to John by simply saying, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea.” ( Mat_1:1 ) Both the birth of Jesus and the ministry of John are a part of the story of the salvation of mankind.

God can always use fearless, dedicated men like John the Baptist. His mission was that of being a forerunner for Jesus. This common man had an uncommon influence for God's cause. In quiet solitude with God, this great man prepared to be a true and faithful servant of God. Jesus would later say of John, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” ( Mat_11:11 )

John was a public preacher and his message was a public proclamation of the need for all men everywhere to repent. It is of interest that John did much of his public preaching “in the wilderness of Judea.” This is an area that was not heavily populated, but many people passed through there.

John's message was simply, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Repentance is one of the most misunderstood words in the Bible. Some confuse repentance with prayer or confessing sins. Repentance is not expressing regret for sin. It is a change of heart or a change of mind that leads to a change in one's actions.

Matthew described John as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isa_40:3 . John's work was to prepare the way for Christ. His dress and food was primitive. He was like Elijah, one of the great Old Testament prophets. Many people came to John to confess their sins and to be baptized by him.

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to check out John's baptism. He knew their lack of conversion so he said, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” ( Mat_3:7-8 ) He was not trying to be popular and he did not just want these people to be religious. He wanted them to be righteous.

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. John's baptism was a baptism growing out of repentance and it was for the remission. But Jesus was the sinless Son of God. ( 2Co_5:21 ) He had no need of repentance and forgiveness of sins. Jesus was baptized because that was the “proper way to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus wanted to be baptized because that was God's will. He was willing to be baptized when he did not even need to be. The Pharisees and Sadducees were unwilling to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins when they very much needed to be!

At the baptism of Jesus it was verified from heaven that He is the Son of God. “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: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” ( Mat_3:16-17 )

Verses 1-6

John prepared the way for Jesus Mat_3:1-6 John was called “The” Baptist. Never was he called “A Baptist”. Saying John the Baptist identified the fact that he baptized. John “The Barber” would identify a man as one who cuts hair and saying John “The Baptist” identified him as one who baptized. He was a special man with the special mission of being a forerunner for Jesus. Both the man and his message were unique: (1) The Man “Now John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.” ( Mat_3:4 ) and, (2) The Message “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” ( Mat_3:2 ) Even today (especially today) people still need to hear preaching about “Repentance” and the “Kingdom of Heaven.” Repentance is a change of mind, a heart change, a spiritual change. The kingdom of heaven is the one church or one body of Christ. ( Mat_16:18 , Eph_4:4 ) Because of John's powerful preaching many repented, were baptized, and were thus prepared for the Savior. ( Mat_3:5-6 ) He was truly “...the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.” ( Mat_3:3 .)

Verses 7-10

John preached a message of repentance Mat_3:7-10 : There were those that John refused to baptize because they showed no repentance. ( Mat_3:7-8 ) He called these people a generation of vipers because of their hypocrisy and malice. They, like their parents, were children of the evil one. John felt that if these people had truly repented that there would be works that would show the genuineness of their repentance.

John anticipated or possibly had already heard them say that they were Abraham's seed. Just because they were Abraham's seed did not mean that they were not responsible for their actions. Repentance was still their urgent need!

Verses 11-12

John preached one mightier than himself Mat_3:11-12 : John was born about six months before Jesus, and began his ministry before Jesus did His. John wanted it clearly understood that though Jesus’ ministry started after his that Jesus is the mightier. When John spoke of Jesus he said, “Someone more powerful is going to come, and I am not good enough even to carry his sandals.”

What colorful symbols were used to show the Jews the urgency of their repentance to prepare for Jesus, (a) an ax laid to the root of the tree, (b) a baptism of fire, and (c) a winnowing fan? John promised God's wrath on those who would not repent. The ax was an ax of God's judgment and vengeance. The baptism of fire is that of tribulations and afflictions. Those that will not repent will be separated with God's winnowing fan to face certain destruction.

Verses 13-17

John baptized Jesus to fulfill righteousness Mat_3:13-17 : Years ago a lady told me that since Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist that made Jesus a Baptist. If my hair was cut by John the barber, would that make me a barber? When Jesus was baptized by John, it was not to become a Baptist but to “fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus was baptized in Jordan. He was baptized by burial because He came up from the water. ( Mat_3:16 ) Two evidences were given that Jesus truly is the son of God, (a) A dove lighting upon him ( Mat_3:16 ), and (b) A voice from heaven saying “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Our baptism puts us into Christ and it is for the remission of sins. ( Gal_3:27 , Act_2:38 .) With this God is well pleased.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 3". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/matthew-3.html. 2014.
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