Every Family has that One Relative: Matthew 3
Matthew continues to narrate the story of Jesus by jumping ahead to his adulthood. We are not given many details about Jesus’ youth other than His birth and his family moving around to avoid Herod. Luke, in his account of Jesus, does give us a glimpse of three days in Jesus’s life as an adolescent. However, Matthew moves ahead to when Jesus is approximately thirty years old. But before we see Jesus as an adult, we are introduced to his cousin, John. This is the John the world calls the Baptist.
John is an interesting character. He lives in the wilderness, wears camel hair clothing, and eats what nature provides – locusts and wild honey. This may give away my age, but I picture John as a Grizzly Adams type character. He is such a unique character and has a charisma that draws people from all over Judea to see him and listen to what he has to say. I imagine that some are genuinely interested while others assemble for the show. His message is simple, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This is a message of the coming of the kingdom of the Messiah. John is saying the time is near. People respond they submit to immersion in repentance and in preparation for the coming kingdom.
Matthew makes certain his readers know that in doing this, John is fulfilling a prophecy from Isaiah concerning the coming Messiah. John is the one who would prepare the way. (Isaiah 40:3).
Some who come for the show are the Sadducees and Pharisees. John is bold; he is fearless. When he sees these powerful religious leaders in the crowd he challenges their mindset and their self-righteousness. He calls them venomous snakes and asks who warned them to repent. He preemptively challenges their appeal to an Abrahamic lineage and tells all around about the Messiah who will come with the power and approval of the Holy Spirit.
While we are envisioning this scene and watching the events unfold, Matthew announces the arrival of Jesus to see John. Jesus comes seeking baptism. John protests based on his unworthiness compared to Jesus. When Jesus replies about what is fitting and righteousness, John consents and immerses Jesus.
I will let Matthew describe what happens next:
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17).
Now God has spoken. The Holy Spirit anoints Jesus publicly. This Jesus is the anointed king; He is the Son of God (God verbally claims Him); He IS the Messiah, the Christ.
- What will the people do?
- What will you and I do?
- How will we respond?