Chapter 3 is relatively brief. Again, there are two sections: the first is our introduction to the person and preaching of John the Baptist (vv. 1-12); and the second is Jesus’s baptism by John in the Jordon River (vv. 13-17).
We often call John the Baptist the “forerunner to the Messiah.” He is preparing the way from Jesus as is clear by the prophecy mentioned in verse 3. John’s message is the same one Jesus will preach: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v. 2). Repenting simply means: turning one’s life around; getting rid of sin and leading a life of virtue. John’s own character- the fact that he dressed in camel’s hair and and eats locusts and wild honey (outward signs of penance and repentance) adds to his credibility. And of course, he’s the baptizer- water that washes way dirt and gives life- this is his mission. But John doesn’t sugar coat it- he has harsh words, and a warning for those who would not repent (vv. 7-12).
Now, we’ve come to the good stuff. Probably the most important line in all of Matthew’s Gospel- the true Identity of Jesus revealed. Upon his baptism, by the John in the Jordon River, the clouds are opened and the Father himself speaks in an audible voice, and in that voice, He reveals to us the true Identity of this man. The little boy who was worshiped by shepherds and wise men both; the little boy who garnered Herod’s wrath; the little boy who lived with Mary and Joseph for 30 years before leaving Nazareth- this IS the Beloved Son of God! And so John is a little apprehensive about baptizing him, but Jesus knows the score, and after this, John will know too. The Lord is come- here and now! It’s time to begin.
Notice the presence of the Trinity in full: the voice of the Father from Heaven; the Son named and revealed in Jesus; and the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a Dove.
Point for Prayer
Pray with John and Jesus at the Jordon. Remember that we too were baptized: In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And with that Baptism we are joined to God in the same way that Jesus was. We too become Beloved Sons and Daughters to God the Heavenly Father! And because of this we are able to call Jesus our brother. Right now: what do you want to say to your Brother?