Summary: Jesus came the first time to cleanse us and make us pure through his death and resurrection and as he showed us God’s love and mercy.
I) When I lived in Ottawa, KS there was a salvage yard especially for trucks -- big trucks, mid-size trucks, cabs of all sizes and trailers, too -- the truck salvage yard had it all. In reality it looked like a cemetery for old, broken down trucks. This salvage yard spanned a half mile location along the interstate -- making an eye sore in a lot of people’s minds. People even tried to get the county commission to make the salvage yard to put up some kind of fence to block the view of the "junky" trucks. The owner of the truck salvage yard claimed his inventory of old broken down trucks was valuable merchandise.
One person once said that it would be great if the trucks in his salvage yard could somehow be transformed and changed into new trucks. The person went on to say that it would be great if all the junky trucks could somehow be skimmed away and miraculously replaced by new, shiny trucks. Rather than the eye sore that people saw as they drove by the salvage yard they would instead see something beautiful -- or at least something more appealing than salvage and junk.
II) A long, long time ago there was a country evangelist who set up his tent and preached right there by the riverside. That way the evangelist was able to baptize the converts right there on the spot. This country evangelist would tell those who gathered under his tent that they needed a life change ... He told them that they needed to turn their hearts and lives back toward God. That’s what it means to repent.
This country evangelist got the town stirred up and excited about God again. Men and women were coming from all corners of the town to hear the evangelist preach and be baptized by the evangelist in the river.
One day ... a group of religious hypocrites came down to the tent to hear him ... to see what the stir was about. That’s when the country evangelist looked in their eyes and gave them a stern warning ...
"If you really want to change your life ... then start living a life that points other people to God. Don’t merely repent ... show the fruit of God in your life."
And then he told everyone there at the tent ... "If you think I’M turning heads & hearts back to God ... you haven’t seen anything yet. There’s another preacher & teacher coming that’s really going to get your attention. The guy that’s coming after me is going to be a Master Teacher ... and instead of cleaning you up with river water ... he’s going to cleanse you with the fire of the Word of God and with the Holy Spirit."
III) Can you imagine the looks on the faces of those who gathered by the banks of the Jordan River to hear John the Baptist preach? He didn’t wear the tailored made suits or robes that the other evangelists wore. Instead ... he wore camel hair rags ... something like an old pair of overalls.
The religious leaders of the day were really caught off guard ....in fact they were probably repulsed by this crude country evangelist. And then when he talked about this Master Teacher who would be purifying people with fire ... WHOA!!