Thursday, October 4, 2007

Matthew 3:5-6 The Baptism of John-A Baptism of Repentance

For years as a Christian, I floundered. I didn’t grow or produce spiritual fruit because I wasn’t studying the word of God. I don’t think I’m the only Christian that could say that was the case in their lives. That is why I am convicted as a teacher of God’s word that the Bible must be taught from cover to cover. I am totally sold out for God’s word because of the power that it had to change my life. True Biblical preaching produces change in the lives of people who are willing to submit to it. We see this is the case as we study these verses today.

First of all, we must remember the context of these verses. John had, for some time, been preaching in the wilderness of Judea that because of the advent of the Christ people needed to repent. He proclaimed that they needed to prepare themselves spiritually for the arrival of Jesus. We find that his preaching had an effect on some of the hearers. Matthew records that “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan” responded to his message. Now, as we read that, we recognize that Matthew couldn’t have possibly meant every single person came in response. The picture the evangelist paints here for the reader is that of a large, diverse crowd coming in response to this message. They came from the city, from the county and from the boondocks. The message of the gospel, as Paul notes in Colossians, is for the whole world. We see by the response of the people in this region that Biblical message preached by John drew people regardless of where they came from.

Not only do we observe the variety of people who came in response, but we notice the result the preaching had on their hearts by their actions. First of all, they exhibited their true repentance by agreeing to be baptized. The Greek word that is transliterated “baptized” is the word “baptizo” which means “to immerse in liquid”. As John Gill notes in his commentary, Jews had practiced baptism of Gentiles who would convert to Judaism to symbolize that they were now ceremonially clean. Therefore, when these Jews participated in this baptism, they were making the startling profession that they had, in fact, been Gentiles all along spiritually speaking. They were recognizing their need of a savior and the inability of their form of religion to produce the righteousness that God would require.

They also come to be by the one who exhorted them to prepare spiritually. They came to John in response to his preaching. The message of repentance had pierced their dead hearts and they came to John in the same spirit of the jailer who fell at Paul’s feet asking “What must I do to be saved?” Some of these people may have had money or power. It is easy to imagine that most of them were better off than John was because, after all, he lived in the woods. Coming out to this man was an act of humility for these people and speaks to the genuineness of their motivations.

Notice also the exclamation of the people. They came to John “confessing their sins”. The Greek word “exomologio” and it can mean “to acknowledge or agree fully.” In confessing their sins, they were agreeing with God that their sin was wrong. This confession was probably public, with people lining the shores of the Jordan while the person was being baptized. It was probably specific. I can’t imagine anyone confessing their “sins” (plural) and not listing the specifically.

This awesome sight of truly repentant people demonstrates the power of God’s word to change lives. This man of God faithfully proclaimed his message. He sowed the seed of the word. Of course, God was faithful, as he always is, to produce of harvest of truly repentant people who would bring glory to His name by allowing people to see His love and mercy in forgiving them of their sins.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

No comments: