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Summary: We need to make sure that our hearts are ready for Jesus coming.

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Preparing the Way For The Messiah

Text: Matt. 3:1-12

Introduction

1. Illustration: Gene Getz once said of God’s plan for Joseph that: At age thirty, Joseph could never have handled this world-class task without an intensive and experience oriented course in management. It began in Potiphar’s house, where he managed all of his affairs. It continued in prison where he was eventually responsible for all the prisoners. And thirteen years later, he was “put. . .in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” “God’s plan for Joseph was on schedule. His preparation was tailor-made for the task God had for him. And because Joseph passed each test, learned from each experience, and learned to trust God more, he was ready when God opened the door of opportunity. He handled prestige and power without succumbing to pride. He persevered with patience and performed his duties faithfully and successfully. He was well prepared.”

2. Preparing for Jesus takes preparation too.

a. His first coming required the preparation of a prophet named John the Baptist.

b. We need to prepare ourselves for his second coming.

3. That preparation will require:

a. The message of preparation

b. The sincerity of preparation

c. The necessity of preparation

4. Read Matt. 3:1-12

Proposition: We need to make sure that our hearts are ready for Jesus coming.

Transition: The first thing we need is...

I. The Message of Preparation (1-6)

A. His Message

1. We must first ask the question, who was John the Baptist?

a. Two Old Testament prophets had prophesied his coming.

b. We can see one of them mentioned down in v. 3.

c. Matthew 3:3 (NLT)

The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”

d. However, the prophet Malachi also spoke of John’s coming.

e. Malachi 3:1 (NLT)

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

f. Malachi 4:5-6 (NLT)

“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

2. Notice that Malachi associates him with Elijah the Old Testament prophet. Several things in Matthew’s text show the similarities between John and an Old Testament prophet.

a. The first thing is where he ministered, "the Judean wilderness." He ministered out in the desert, away from the towns and villages because the establishment didn’t want to hear his message.

b. Second, was what John wore. John appears in the desert wearing garments made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist.

1) Goat’s hair or camel’s hair was often woven into a thick, rough, dark cloth, which was used as an outer garment or cloak, particularly by nomadic desert dwellers.

2) More importantly, this again associates John with Elijah.

3) 2 Kings 1:8 (NLT)

They replied, “He was a hairy man, and he wore a leather belt around his waist.” “Elijah from Tishbe!” the king exclaimed.

4) Moreover, garments of woven hair were sometimes worn as a protest against luxury and as a symbol of distress or self-affliction, so John the Baptist’s garment of camel’s hair probably visualized the repentance to which he called the people (Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Matthew, 133).

c. The third thing that Matthew uses to associate John with the Old Testament prophets is what he ate.

1) John’s food was locusts and wild honey, not an unusual diet for people living in the desert.

2) But more important, John’s diet causes him to stand out as one who has rejected the luxuries of life.

3) His diet and clothing combine with his message to cast a powerful demand for repentance in the light of the nearness of the kingdom (Wilkins, 133-134).

3. However, the most important aspect of John was his message, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

a. The word repent means "to change one’s way of life as the result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness (Louw and Nidda, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains).

b. John called his audience not just to cover over their sins with meaningless sacrifices, but to actually have a complete change of hear, mind, and spirit.

c. "This involves congnition of need, sorrow for sin, a decision to turn from sin to God, and subsequent obedient lifestyle" (Turner, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 57).

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