This is another one of those chapters where I really wish I could have been there and seen it first-hand.
- V2 – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This could be translated “Clean up your act! Prepare yourself! Get right with God because His kingdom is about to come into the picture and you’re going to want to be a part of it.” Would John’s audience have any (right or wrong) notions of what God’s kingdom would look like?
◊ Should our message now be “Repent for the kingdom of God is here!”? How can I demonstrate what the kingdom of God (God reigning in my life, the lives of other Christians and circumstances) looks like? God’s kingdom is only partly here now, it will be here in full when Christ returns (1 Corinthians 13:10). Am I super stoked about this? How can I help others to understand how exciting and awesome that will be?
- V3 – John prepared people to hear what Jesus had to say. Make His paths straight – remove the obstacles that might prevent people from accepting and/or obeying Jesus.
◊ What are those obstacles for me?
◊ My Study Bible notes say making a straight path for others might mean correcting misconceptions that might be hindering them. How can I help prepare people to be receptive to Jesus? Can I answer this specifically? What can I say to who that might help prepare them to hear Jesus more clearly?
- V5-6 – Everyone was ready for a prophet. He (apparently) fit the bill of what they were expecting.
- V6 – Those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life.
◊ Confession of sin should lead to a changed life. Does my life reflect this truth? Do I daily confess sins? Am I constantly changing and growing as I submit to God’s work in me?
- V7 – He was really harsh with the people who weren’t coming ready to be changed. The Pharisees’ baptisms must have been for show and to go along with the crowd.
◊ Do I do “religious things” for show or out of the change that’s happening inside of me? Do my actions match my words?
- V8, 10 – “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” – Reminds them their actions show what’s going on in the their insides. Your actions should demonstrate a constantly repentant heart.
◊ Is this true for me? What does the fruit of what’s going on in my heart look like?
- V11 – Water is outward symbol of repentance. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is inward change.
- V11 – John was a “spiritual giant” yet considered himself not worthy of touching even Jesus’ shoes.
◊ Do I show that kind of reverence and respect to the King of Heaven, Creator of the Universe?
- V10,12 – Even John spoke in parables.
◊ Have I ever spoken to someone about God in terms I’m sure they would relate to, but aren’t necessarily in the Bible? (Like in the terms of a mechanic or someone who loves to brew a good beer.)
- V14 – Even though John is Jesus’ cousin (2nd cousin, I guess), he still holds him in the highest respect.
- V15 – Jesus’ baptism doesn’t symbolize repentance (he has nothing to repent for) but was a public act of obedience to His Father and confirmed what John was teaching. My Study Bible notes say He was also confessing sin on behalf of all people (like Ezra, Nehemiah, Moses, and Daniel.) Jesus was praying for us!
- V15 – “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” – All the prophecies, all the work God has done weaving together the story so far is coming together right now as I begin my ministry.
- V15 – John agreed to do something for Jesus even though he felt completely unqualified and thought he had no business doing it.
◊ Do I or have I ever declined to obey or serve God because I considered myself unqualified?
- V16 – The heavens were opened – what an amazing picture! Like a curtain? What was behind them? Were they able to see the throne of God?! If I were there, I don’t think I’d leave Jesus’ side from that moment on.
◊ When I see God do something spectacular, do I tell everyone? Does it demand my devotion or does the excitement wear off?
- V16 – Father, Son, and Spirit all together for one moment on earth. How beautiful.
- V17 – What a wonderful picture of Father claiming His Son. Even though Jesus has done nothing to start His ministry but show up, God lets Him – and everyone else – know that He’s proud of Him.
◊ Because of Jesus’ obedience, God transferred Jesus’ goodness to me. In spite of my sin, God sees Jesus’ righteousness when He looks at me. It stands to reason He would then claim me in the same way. “This is my daughter, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Do I believe that about myself? Does my confidence in God’s love for me (even though I don’t deserve it) translate to the same kind of outrageous love towards others?
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?