John’s purpose was the prepare the people for the arrival of the Messiah.
John’s preaching touched the masses at the deepest level of their souls. Many were moved to action, submitting themselves to baptism as the symbol that they were turning from self-righteous religion to renewed anticipation and FAITH in the arrival of The Messiah.
Not knowing who the Messiah was, people were speculating that John might be him. The Gospel of John (not the same John) says a delegation of priests and Levites were sent from Jerusalem to confront John with this question…WHO ARE YOU?
John knew exactly who we was. He was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah …the VOICE of one crying in the wilderness…. His job was to prepare and identify The Messiah.
What a rush! How tempting would it be to let people think more of you than is true. Many a man/woman has fallen under this spell allowing the flattery of others drive them toward a life that was never meant for them.
TRUTH POINT: Nothing is more exhausting nor disillusioning than to live under the weight of trying to be someone or something you are not.
What most people don’t understand is that the only way to be truly significant, is to be what God created you to be.
Freedom comes when we discover and accept who God created us to be and pursue that for His glory and the benefit of others.
John set the record straight on his identity by contrasting his ministry with that of The Messiah. Luke 3:16
Catch the contrast…
* I baptize with water, an external symbol of the work of God.
* The Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire, an internal work that is supernatural and eternally permanent.
John’s reference to the baptism of The Holy Spirit is about the Spirit’s work in our being “born again” into the family and kingdom of God.
TRUTH POINT: The New Birth is the work of The Holy Spirit.
* He convicts of sin.
* He convinces of the righteousness of Christ.
* He enlightens concerning the coming judgement.
The Spirit draws the sinner to Christ, brings supernatural life to their spirit and seals them in Christ so their right standing with God is sure.
John 15:26; 3:5-8; Ephesians 1:13-14
What is this “baptism with fire”?
Some say it is the refining fire of sanctification the ongoing work of The Spirit where we are conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Romans 8:29
Others point to Scriptures that reinforce the idea of judgement for those who reject Jesus as The Messiah. Malachi 4:1
While a compelling case could be made for either position, I believe the context points to a specific position. John speaks metaphorically of The Messiah in terms of a Thresher of Wheat… VS17
He holds a winnowing fork and stands on a threshing floor - He’s at work separating the Wheat from the Chaff. He will completely clear His threshing floor, separating the wheat to be stored in the barn and the chaff which to be burned.
The imagery is not hard to follow:
* The threshing floor = the world.
* The winnowing fork = the gospel.
* The Wheat = Those receive the Gospel.
* The Barn = Heaven / The Kingdom of God.
* The Chaff = Those reject the Gospel.
* The fire = Hell… eternal separation of body and soul from the presence of God.
TRUTH POINT: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is an offense to those whose heart is set against truth. When preached it always pulls sinners toward the Savior OR pushes sinners away.
The Apostle Paul refers to The Gospel as the “fragrance of life” OR “the fragrance of death” 2 Corinthians 2:16
Why was Jesus baptized?
John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sin, but Jesus did not have any sin to repent of.
First, Jesus was baptized …to fulfill all righteousness… Matt. 3:15
As John preached the message of a baptism of repentance, it was a message that separated righteous from the unrighteous. As a man, Jesus needed to identify with the righteousness God established for mankind. in this way Jesus would fulfill that righteousness within Himself and give testimony to the righteousness of God.
Second, Jesus’ baptism is all about identification Baptism has always been about identification and remains so today. It was God’s will that Jesus be identified as His Son, utilizing this form of identification.
The Gospel of John 1:33 says that that John The Baptist was given revelation that the one upon whom he saw The Spirit descending and
remaining on, that one was The Messiah. Luke 3:21-22 says the Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove.
The day following Jesus’ baptism and the miraculous sign, John was at the Jordan and saw Jesus coming his way. He proclaimed to all who could hear… Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, found himself in an immoral relationship with his half-brother Philip’s wife Herodias. John was relentless in speaking out against this and Antipas had John arrested.
Herodias wanted more… she wanted John’s Head. Matthew 14:3-12.
John The Baptist had a blessed and distinctive life.
* …filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth.
* His preaching brought renewed expectation for the Messiah.
* He saw the sign of The Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus and was able to declare that He was The Lamb of God, come to take away the sin of the world.
* When his mission was complete, God in His mercy graduated John from mortal to immortal status. John was ushered into the presence of his creator where for 2,000 years he’s been enjoying the splendors of Heaven.
* John goes down in history with this honor. Jesus said: 11Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Matthew 11:11
The people were prepared. The Messiah was identified. He accomplished His redemptive work on the cross. Where do you stand today?