Summary: Glory by the river (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Matthew chapter 3 verses 1-18.
Quote: R.C. Sproul (the American author, theologian and pastor):
“The soul is lifted up by the contemplation of the glory of God and of his only begotten Son”
“It is Christ in his glory who is the object of our worship and adoration. As Christians we join the communion of saints and the host of heaven in lifting up praise and honour to him”.
The baptism of Jesus was an incredible event:
• John was the cousin of Jesus;
• And probably for the first time since they were children;
• They come face to face, eye to eye, they stand toe to toe!
(1). John the Baptist:
• Must have been a thrilling sight,
• As he stood preaching and baptising in the Jordan river,
• He did not just arrive on the scene;
• He exploded ill: stick of dynamite!
• He would have been unlike anything that the people of his day;
• Had ever witnessed or seen.
I say that because John the baptiser was in total contrast to the religious leaders of his day:
• Verse 4a: He was simplistic in Dress.
• Ill: Camel hair & leather belt (Not a fashion statement)
• Verse 4b: He was simplistic in his diet.
• Ill: Locusts & wild honey (Not a health diet)
• Verse 1: He was simplistic in life-style.
• Ill: He lived in the desert of Judea (No need for material possessions that dominate our lives)
• Verse 3: He was simplistic in his message.
• He was easily understood (Ill: we would call him a fire & brimstone preacher).
• And like iron filings drawn to a magnate,
• Verse 5: Informs us they came from everywhere to hear him:
• Drawn by the reality of both;
• The messenger and the message.
(2). John and his message:
• In verses 11-12: John makes four great predictions concerning the Messiah:
• There are four clear promises concerning Jesus.
Let’s look at them starting in verse 11:
"I baptise you with water for repentance.
But after me will come one who is more powerful than I,
whose sandals I am not fit to carry…….
• (1st prediction:) “HE WILL baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”.
• The next 3 predictions follow:
• (2nd:) “His winnowing fork is in his hand,
• and HE WILL clear HIS threshing-floor,”
• (3rd prediction:) “Gather HIS wheat into the barn”
• (4th prediction:) “And burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire".
Now this was a familiar picture to John's hearers:
• They didn't have combined harvesters etc,
• They did their manually, they worked by hand,
• John uses this everyday picture to teach them important spiritual truths;
• John tells them that the Messiah will do a cleansing, a cleaning up work.
In New Testament days:
• A farmer would put his fork into the pile of harvested grain before him,
• He would then lift it up, throwing it into the air, into the wind.
• The light useless chaff would blow to the side,
• Later that chaff would be swept up and burnt.
• While the heavier, valuable kernels of wheat,
• Would fall to the ground and be gathered up into the barn.
John uses this picture, this imagery, to predict that:
• When the Messiah appears he will cut through all the worthless chaff;
• That is the empty religion of the Pharisees.
• And he will locate the good wheat;
• That is those people who are genuine, true seekers of God.
• The strong language that John the baptiser uses:
• He uses four verbs, four action words:
• "He will baptise".
• "He will clean".
• "He will gather".
• "He will burn up".
John's message was bold, newfangled, and authoritative;
• And like all new ideas today, it was bound to meet with resistance.
• And it did! (but that is another sermon for another day!)
(3). John and Jesus:
• Without announcement, without appointment, without a word being spoken:
• We read in verse 13 of the arrival of Jesus.
"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John".
Don't miss the impact of these next few verses:
• For thirty years as far as we know:
• Jesus has been working day after day in his fathers carpenters shop.
• For thirty years he has simply been the son of Joseph & Mary.
• For thirty years he has simply been just another citizen of Nazareth.
• But now in verse 13 that's all going to change.
• For John, Jesus and the crowd of witnesses gathered;
• This was going to be the start of another important chapter in the history of the world!