(Mat 3:1 NASB) Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
(Mat 3:2 NASB) “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Mat 3:2: John comes out of the wilderness and steps into the picture. His message is short and very clear. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The coming kingdom is the prevailing theme in Matthew. It is mentioned some fifty times in this book.
John says to “repent.” To “repent” means to turn away from the ways of the world and turn toward the Torah of Elohim (Isaiah 55:7, Ezekiel 18:30-32, 33:11). We are told in Scripture that if we do not repent we will perish (Luke 13:3, Jer. 26:3-6).
(Mat 3:3 NASB) For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!'”
Mat 3:3: Matthew tells us that John is the one spoken of by Isaiah the prophet. This is a quote from Isaiah 40:3. John is the voice in the wilderness preparing the way for Elohim (Isa. 57:14-15). John, and also Yeshua Messiah, are referred to in other parts of the Tanakh also (Mal. 3:1).
(Mat 3:4 NASB) Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Mat 3:4: This description of John further leads us to the identity of John in the Tanakh. He is dressed in camels’ hair (a hairy man) with a leather belt around his waist (2 Kings 1:8). The diet of wild locusts and honey is reminiscent of Elijah being fed by the ravens in the wilderness. The message of John was very similar to Elijah’s (1 Kings 18:21).
John is the prophet Elijah spoken of in Malachi (Malachi 4:4-6). Yeshua said that John is Elijah who was to come (Matt. 17:11-13).
(Mat 3:5 NASB) Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan;
(Mat 3:6 NASB) and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
Mat 3:6: One of the ancient conditions of being a proselyte to Judaism is the immersion of the person in water. Since these people are already Jews, that is now what is happening here. These people are confessing their sins and being rededicated to the Torah of the Father (Ezek. 36:25-27).
(Mat 3:7 NASB) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Mat 3:7: We are told in the book of John that the Pharisees asked John why he is baptizing these people if he is not Elijah or the Messiah (John 1:24-25). They saw this baptizing as a sign of the New Covenant to come as shown in Ezekiel 36:25-27.
John asked the Pharisees, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” They were not coming to sincerely repent. They came to find out what John was doing and why. They might have suspected that John was recruiting people into a new group and that would take away from their power.
(Mat 3:8 NASB) “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;
Mat 3:8: Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance is speaking of performing the works that are commanded by the Torah of the Father (Psalm 104:13, Prov. 8:19-20, Isa. 45:8).
(Mat 3:9 NASB) and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
Mat 3:9: The common thought is that salvation comes to those who are descendants of Abraham. John tells them that Elohim can make sons of Abraham from these stones lying on the ground.
(Mat 3:10 NASB) “And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Mat 3:10: John is telling them that the time is near for judgment as described in the Tanakh (Mal. 4:1).
(Mat 3:11 NASB) “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Mat 3:11: John saying that One is coming who will bring in the New Covenant (Isa. 32:15, 44:3-5, Ezek. 37:14, Joel 2:28-31).
John said that He will baptize with the Spirit of the Father and with fire. That means He will bring salvation to His people and judgment to others.
(Mat 3:12 NASB) “And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Mat 3:12: This speaks of the judgment of the Father (Jer. 15:7).
(Mat 3:13 NASB) Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.
(Mat 3:14 NASB) But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
Mat 3:14: John knows who Yeshua is. He is the One for whom John is the messenger.
Keep in mind the lineage of John. He is the son of a man who served for a time as High Priest (Luke 1:5-9).
The question often arises, “If Yeshua is the Son of Elohim, why did He need to be baptized?” There are numerous reasons for this. For one, this was to reveal His identity to John (John 1:31-34).
Another reason is that we are told in Luke that Yeshua began His ministry at the age of thirty after the baptism (Luke 3:23). A man could only enter into the priesthood at the age of thirty (Num. 4:2-3). The baptism was for Yeshua to be cleansed with water before entering the priesthood (Ex. 29:4-6). Instead of having a crown placed upon His turban, the Spirit of Elohim descended upon Him.
(Mat 3:15 NASB) But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.
Mat 3:15: We are told that John initially objected to baptizing Yeshua. John thought that Yeshua should be baptizing him. But Yeshua said that this must be done in order to fulfill (make full) all righteousness. Yeshua was fulfilling the prophecy that His Spirit would be put upon the Messiah and that He would be the One to judge the nations (Isa. 42:1).
(Mat 3:16 NASB) And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him,
(Mat 3:17 NASB) and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Mat 3:17: This is what John the Witness was to verify. That this is the Chosen One, the Son of Elohim.
This same sign was given to Peter, James, and John so they would know from Elohim Himself who is the Messiah (Matt. 17:1-6).
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas