Discuss: Name a time when you learned an important truth from an unexpected source.
Matthew is writing for people who are
• Geographically removed from Jesus
• Chronologically removed from Jesus
• Interested in the life of Jesus
John The Baptist
- Was born into a priestly family
- Preached a bare-knuckle, pull-no-punches message of repentance
- Rejected the luxuries of religious leaders
- Confronted those who held powerful positions
- Put the focus on Jesus
Repent (μετανοέω) – to think differently or afterwards; that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction); to stop and change directions
1. How can I engage in repentance?
- Confession: (ξομολογέω) to acknowledge, to declare or profess
- Confession happens in three ways:
- At salvation – Acts 2:38-39
- As the healthy behavior of a Christian – 1 John 1:9
- To one another in meaningful deep relationships within a Christian Church – James 3:13-17
2. Here are the reasons you should get baptized:
- Jesus was baptized
- The Trinity was pleased
- Jesus ordered us to be baptized
- This was the practice of the church
- This best represents the death, burial, and resurrection
3. Strong words for religious leaders
- Produce fruit (in keeping with repentance)
- Don’t depend on your spiritual pedigree (“we have Abraham as our father”)
- Judgement is coming (His winnowing fork is in his hand)
- Repent (but do so by confessing)
- Get ready for what is next
TALK IT OUT
- If you were going to select a messenger to prepare the way for a king to make his entrance onto the world stage, what kind of person would you choose and in what kind of environment would you place them? Now compare that with the description we find of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-7. Why do you think God chose to use someone like him in this important role?
- We read in Matthew 3:2 that John the Baptist called people to repent. To repent basically means to think differently about something, to stop and change directions and go a different way. As it relates to sin, how does repenting from our sin differ from simply feeling sorry for our sin?
- Read Romans 3:28 and Ephesians 2:8-9. In these passages, we clearly see that we are not saved by our works or good deeds, yet in Matthew 3:8 John the Baptist calls out the Pharisees and Sadducees because their behavior wasn’t matching up with their claim to be God-followers. Read Acts 26:20, James 2:17-18, 1 John 3:18 and Matthew 5:16. If we are not saved by our good deeds, then why do they matter?
- Read Matthew 3:9. Although many Jews in Jesus’ day believed they had right standing with God simply because they were descendants of Abraham, John the Baptist let them know that right standing with God was not something that could be inherited or simply passed down from generation to generation. Now read John 1:12-13, Acts 13:38-39, Galatians 2:15-16 and Galatians 3:7-9,29. According to these passages, what brings us into right standing with God?
- Read Matthew 3:5-6,13-17. Because John’s baptisms are symbolic of personal repentance, he immediately objects when Jesus comes to be baptized since Jesus has no sin of His own for which to repent, but Jesus convinces John to go ahead with it. With that in mind, in what other ways might this baptism have been significant for Jesus?
LIVE IT OUT
- Is there an area of your life in which you know you need to repent – that is, to stop and change directions and go a different way? Take a few moments right now to confess that to God. Ask Him to help you turn away from that sin and turn toward Him instead.
- How closely does your “walk” line up with your “talk”? If you claim to be a Jesus follower, does your behavior consistently reflect the life and love of Jesus? If not, what is one adjustment you will make this week to help correct that?