Matthew Journey Chapter 3

The book of Matthew moves on . . .

Chapter 3

This chapter tells the story of John’s ministry and Jesus’ baptism. It’s really a fascinating story, all told. Everything that happens here is such a story of something strange breaking in violently to the way of life everyone was used to. There is a lot of stuff here.

  • Right off John talks about the kingdom. He’s in trouble here, because the Romans in charge were used to talk of subversion and riots. Talk of a new kingdom coming near was just asking for it.
  • This mention of the kingdom also makes us rethink our image of a kingdom. Is John talking about Heaven literally crashing into earth, or something more subtle?
  • The description of John makes him out to be quite a freak. It’s possible he had taken the old testament Nazarite Vow (think Samson without super-strength).
  • When John sees the Jewish leaders, he is quick to tell them what he thinks. People knew the system was becoming corrupt; John is not foolish, and he knows they are not there to learn and change.
  • It’s a commonly overlooked theme in the Bible: the harsh words here are for so-called believers, not the common people gathering around.
  • We see here, like in the last chapter, that we can not get haughty thinking God needs us and that we are somehow special as Christians. John tells the Jewish leaders not to assume they are powerful and authoritative because of their heritage. God will use what and who he must, and God will get the job done.
  • When Jesus comes, John does not want to baptize him because he recognizes Jesus deity. As he always does though, Jesus joins with the others when he could be set apart.
  • Jesus is always looking to join us. Baptism is declaring to be part of something. Jesus is on our side, and he proclaimed it here.
  • Baptism occurred before this and was a form of ritual cleansing. John’s was different because you were baptized by someone else instead of doing it yourself  This was because you were joining something, not just cleansing.
  • The image of baptism and passing through the water carries with it the story of the Exodus. When we join with Jesus, we are leaving a life of slavery and entering a journey to something new.
  • God comes down from heaven after this and recognizes Jesus as His son, and declares His pleasure with the whole proceeding.
  • Every time you see the Trinity in the Bible, they are pointing to the others. God comes down and recognizes Jesus. Jesus is always pointing to the Father and he declares that the Holy Spirit will be greater than him. The Holy Spirit directs us to Jesus and to the Father.
  • The Trinity is a picture of perfect relationship. It’s perfect harmony, three and also one. It’s a picture of love where you are always looking to the others and pointing to them rather than to yourself.

To me, Matthew three contrasts two ways of life. One is about myself and keeping the status quo. The other way of life is where I am joining others on a journey of change, and where I am more concerned with those around me with myself.


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