Matthew Chapter 3:1-17


Matthew 3:1-2. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

His was a preparatory ministry; his work was to prepare men’s minds for Christ; and never is the heart of man so ready to receive Christ as when it is in a state of repentance. When it is weary of sin, then is it that Christ comes in, and is welcomed by the soul conscious of its guilt, tired of it, and longing to be rid of it.

Matthew 3:3-4. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his path straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

Everything about him was impressive, and everything was suitable to the message he had to deliver. He was so dressed as to be noticed at once as a man of ascetic habit, he was not the chaplain of a prince, else would he have been clothed in soft raiment, He was not one who had a gentle message to deliver, else would he not have gone into the wilderness, and summoned the people to come away from their avocations to listen to him.

He was the rough pioneer to prepare the way for the King.

Matthew 3:5-6. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins

That was his baptism, — a baptism of repentance, and of confession, preparatory to the coming of the Master. See what power there was in John because God was with him. I do not know that he had any remarkable eloquence. Certainly, some things about him were rather repulsive than attractive. But when God is with a man, the people must listen to him. Jerusalem must pour her thousands out of her gates, and the rural districts must yield their hundreds; for if God speaks, no matter by whom, he will have human ears to listen to his voice.

Matthew 3:7-8. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath, to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet of repentance:

Answerable to your repentance, congruous therewith, arising out of it, and truly proving its reality.

Matthew 3:9-10. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees:

No mere pruning and trimming work did John come to do; he was the handler of a sharp axe that was to fell every worthless tree.

Matthew 3:10. Therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

It is not enough to hew it down. Into the fire it must go; and John minces not his words about the matter, he speaks straight out the message of his Master.

Matthew 3:11-12. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

See the humility of the true servant of Christ. He is not willing even to exercise the office of a slave, and to carry his Master’s shoes, or to unloose the latchet of them. And who among us is worthy to occupy even the lowest office for Christ? There is an honour about it that far transcends any worthiness of ours. To serve him at all, is honour indeed. But, brethren, fix your eyes upon Christ, and recollect what a baptism it is into which he baptizes us; —not with water, but into the Holy Ghost and into fire. Can we bear it? Can we endure the fire? It will only burn up that which ought to be burned; and happy is he to whom God has imparted that eternal life which can never be consumed.

Matthew 3:13-14. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

This is one of the most striking proofs that the ordinance of baptism is not to be neglected by any of Christ’s followers, for even he who, in himself, could have had no need for it, — who is himself the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost and with fire, yet comes to the baptizer in water, and asks to be immersed.

Matthew 3:15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now:- for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.

Nothing that appertains to righteousness must be neglected; the little as well as the great must be observed.

Matthew 3:15-17. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

This doctrine of repentance was preached by the Master as well as by the servant. Turn to the 11th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, and let us read a few verses, beginning at the 20th.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 3, and Matthew 11:20-30; and Rev 7:9-17.


Matthew Chapter 3:1-17


Matthew 3:1-2. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

There is no entering the kingdom of heaven without leaving the kingdom of darkness. We must repent of sin, or we cannot receive the blessings of salvation. Of every man, whoever he may be, whether outwardly moral or openly wicked, repentance is required. It is the door of hope; there is no other way into the kingdom: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 3:3-4. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts end wild honey.

His raiment and his food were like his doctrine, rough and simple. There was no mincing of words, no making of pretty phrases with John the Baptist; his message was simply, "Repent ye: repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is coming." We want more of this John the Baptist teaching nowadays, that men may be plainly told their faults, and warned to put away those faults that they may receive Christ Jesus as their Saviour.

Matthew 3:5-7. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and at Judaea, and out the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come

These were the influential people of the times; the Pharisees were the Ritualists of that age, and the Sadducees were the Pationalists of the period. Why, John, you ought to have smoothed your tongue a bit, and have said some very pleasant words to these great men; for, by so doing, perhaps you might have won some of these Pharisees, or coaxed some of these Sadducees into the kingdom! Ah, no; that is not John’s method! He is plainspoken, and he deals truthfully with his hearers, for he knows that converts made by flattery are but flattering converts that are of no real value.

Matthew 3:8-9. Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within ourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham

Pointing to the stones in the River Jordan, and all along the banks, he said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, "There is nothing, after all, in your natural descent from Abraham. God has promised that Abraham shall have a seed, but think not that he is dependent upon you for that seed. - He can fulfill his promise without you. He can turn the very pebbles of the stream into children for Abraham. God is not short of men to save. If some of you will not have him, do not think that he shall have to come a-begging to you. There are others who will have him, and his rich sovereign grace will find them out. Beware, ye that are proud and think much of yourselves, for God will not humble himself to you. He hath regard to the humble and the lowly, but the proud he knoweth afar off."

Matthew 3:10-12. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shalt baptize you with the holy Ghost, and with fire:-whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he wilt burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

The Christ is the minister of mercy, but there is about his doctrine a-searching and a trying power. Only the sincere in heart can endure Christ’s winnowing fan. As for the insincere, they are blown away like the chaff on the threshing-floor, and their end is destruction. God gave us to be numbered amongst the wheat that Christ shall gather into his heavenly garner!

Matthew 3:13-14. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbid him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

It seemed very strange that John, the servant, should be required to baptize Jesus, the Master.

Matthew 3:15. And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil al righteousness. Then he suffered him.

That is to say the Teacher must himself obey the laws, which he is about to lay down; and inasmuch as he is going to bid others to be baptized, he will set the example, and be himself baptized. I think also that the baptism of Christ was the picture, the type, the symbol of the work, which he afterwards accomplished. He was immersed in suffering; he died, and was buried in the tomb; he rose again from the grave; and all that is set forth in the outward symbol of his baptism in the River Jordan.

Matthew 3:16-17. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and to a voice from heaven, saying, This in my beloved son, in whom I am well leased.

And we are well pleased with him.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 2, and Matthew 3.


Matthew Chapter 3:1-17


Matthew 3:13-14. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Who among us would not have felt as John did? Shall the servant baptize the Master, and such a Master, even his Lord and Saviour? But merely the condescension of our blessed Lord. He would do everything that he wished his people afterwards to do; and therefore he would be baptized, and set the example that he would have them all follow.

Matthew 3:15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

We are never to be so modest as to become disobedient to Christ’s commands. We have known some who have allowed their humility to grow alone in the garden of their heart without the other sweet flowers that should have sprung up side by side with it, and thus their very humility has developed into a kind of pride. John was easily persuaded to do what his feelings at first seemed to forbid: "Then he suffered him."

Matthew 3:16-17. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

It has also happened unto the servants of Christ, as well as to their Master, that in keeping the commandments of God there has been a sweet attestation borne by the Holy Spirit. I trust that we, too, according to our measure of sonship, have heard in our hearts the voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved son," and that we have experienced the descending of the dove-like Spirit, bringing us peace of mind and gentleness of nature.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 3:13-17; and Matthew 4:1-11.



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