This is the sermon for Sunday, April 24th, 2011.  Yes it is Resurrection Sunday, but we are going to continue going verse by verse in the book of Matthew.

Matthew part 5

Forerunner.

Matthew 3:1-12 – 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. 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. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

 

Introduction

Last time we looked at the few things that Matthew recorded concerning the childhood of Jesus.  Today, we are going to see basically the introduction to the beginning of His ministry.  The one who introduces Jesus is none other than the one prophesied in Malachi – the forerunner to Jesus Himself – John the Baptist.

We are going to unpack what Matthew says about him from the text.

John is a witness concerning Jesus Christ.  But he is not the only one that Matthew lists at the beginning of his ministry.  We have the Holy Spirit, The Father Himself, and of course the miracles that He performed.

Let’s begin unpacking our text this morning.

The man and the message.

Matthew 1:1-4 – 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.

 John came preaching repentance while Jesus lived in Nazareth.

  • Notice the phrase, “in those days.”  It is speaking of earlier verses found in Chapter 2 verse 23: “and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.”

 On the surface, John didn’t seem important.

  • Verse 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.
  • He dressed rather shabby, even by the first century Judean cultural clothing.  It said that his food was locusts and wild honey.  More than likely, the locusts here not the grass-hopper, but the locust bean from a locust tree.  I didn’t get that from a commentary, but when my parents went to Israel, their guide explain that too them and said that most Israeli’s knew when locusts were mention here in the text as being eaten, it was from the tree.

While he didn’t appear important, his message was of utmost importance.

  • Verses 1-2 – John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
  • His message was one of repentance.
  • Repent  is the Greek word, μετανοεῖτε (metanoeo)  According to Mounce’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words it means, “a radical moral turn of the whole person from sin and to God.”  It also means, “to change one’s mind.”
  • Why did John have to preach this message to the Jews?  Well according to Constable’s notes, “The Jews needed to change their thinking because most of them believed that they would enter the Messiah’s kingdom simply because they were the children of Abraham. John was attacking established religious concepts of his day and those who taught them. He demanded evidence of genuine repentance instead of mere complacency, hypocrisy, and superficiality.”
  • He gave a reason for them to repent, “the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

John’s ministry was a fulfillment of prophecy.

  • Verse 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.’”

The result of the message: the repentant and the arrogant came.

Matthew 3:5-10 – 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. 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.

 The repentant.

  • Verses 5-6 – 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.
  • John’s message cut to their heart, exposing their sins, so they came to confess their sins, be baptized, and forgiven.

The arrogant.

  • Verses 7-9 – 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.
  • The Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t come out to repent, but perhaps to watch the show of John preaching and baptizing.
  • Notice John cuts right to the chase, “You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
  • It is interesting to note what the terms Pharisees and Sadducees mean: Pharisee means, “Separated one”; Sadducee means, “Righteous one.”  They didn’t come as sinners, but as people who thought they were above the common Jew of their day.
  • So John calls them what they really are – brood of vipers!
  • They had to deny their religious self-righteous as a fruit of repentance: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
  • They also had to repent of their Jewish arrogance: “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.

The judgment of God to separate the true from the false had begun.

Verse 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.

 The message is preparation for the coming Messiah.

Matthew 3:11-12 – 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

 The Messiah would bring this separation.

  • Those who repent would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Those who refuse would be baptized in fire.
  • I do have a Pentecostal background, and those of that persuasion believe that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate work that Christ does after Salvation, and it would be a baptism of fire as well.
  • Well, I don’t believe that interpretation of that passage anymore.  I do believe in different fillings of the Holy Spirit and the present day manifestations of all the gifts of the Spirit, but I also believe based on this text that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a work Christ does at Salvation.
  • I also believe that the fire mentioned is a work that Christ will do at His coming judgment.
  • Why do I now believe this?  Well, because of the text itself.  I believe that verse 12 explains it well.
  • Verse  12 – His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Conclusion

As we conclude what can we take from the sermon to apply?

  • The message that John preached, and we will see later that Jesus preached, is the same message that all ministers much preach today: and that is a message of repentance.
  • We must preach this message to both those who do repent and those who arrogantly refuse.
  • Christ will be glorified by both bringing the repentant to Himself and punishing the arrogant in the wrath of God.

 

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