Matthew 3: Repent of Your Sins and Trust Jesus or Face the Unquenchable Fire

Back in the days before tractors and farming equipment, preparing a wheat harvest was hard work. To separate the wheat — what you want — from the chaff — what you don’t want — took some winnowing on a flat threshing floor. The farmer would throw the wheat and chaff in the air and the wind would blow the lighter chaff into a fire — as depicted in the picture above.

In today’s chapter, we find John the Baptist baptizing people in the Jordan River telling them to repent of their sins. He is telling them about Jesus and what He’s going to do to prepare the people for the coming Kingdom of Heaven. Since the prophet Malachi wrote the last of the Old Testament books — over 400 years before — the people had not heard from God. In fact, the last paragraph of the Old Testament, is a prophecy…

“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Malachi 4:5 NLT

Then John the Baptist comes in the spirit of Elijah. Let’s dig in….

Matthew 3

John the Baptist baptizing in the Jordan River. by Good News Productions International from (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
John the Baptist baptizing in the Jordan River by Good News Productions International from (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
    Clear the road for him!’” [Isaiah 40:3]

John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. 10 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize with[ water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”

The Baptism of Jesus

Jesus baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist by Good News Productions International from (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”

15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.

16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

Matthew 3 NLT

That, my friends is the complete image of the Trinity. God, the Father acknowledging that Jesus was His Son and the Holy Spirit coming down on Him like a dove.

I’m deferring to a Bible study lesson from Spoken Gospel, a study in the Free, YouVersion Bible app

John’s promise that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit foreshadows the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. On that day, people who put their faith in Jesus were immersed in the waters of baptism but also immersed in the Holy Spirit

Jesus identified with us and our sin when he participated in a symbolic act of confession and repentance in baptism. But the baptism of Jesus identifies us with him, his holiness, and his power when we are covered with his Spirit.

Jesus also mentioned a baptism of fire. John elaborates that this fire is one of judgment (Matthew 3:12). Those who do not repent from their sins and put their trust in the coming Lord would face unquenchable fire

This is the baffling beauty of the Gospel. The one who has every right to judge the world for their sin instead takes on their sin (Romans 3:26). And we will also be raised to resurrected life, pictured through our rising from the waters of baptism (Romans 6:5). When we are, we will hear a similar proclamation made over us—that we too are called sons and daughters of God. 

We are adopted into God’s family through Jesus (Romans 8:16). Through the gift and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are brought into relational intimacy with the everlasting trinity. That is good news! 

Spoken Gospel, a study in the Free, YouVersion Bible app

Here are some thoughts from another Bible study plan…

When we are baptized, we connect with Jesus, His death and the new life He gives. When He was baptized, it was to connect with mankind and our brokenness. We could not get out of our broken condition; God knew this was the only way to do it.  Remember that when we face failures and shame, Jesus connects with us in that condition – He knows it, He connects with us in it, and He brings us out of it.

The Holy Spirit is tied closely into baptism. He came and dwelt with Jesus through this time when Jesus connected with mankind.  It is important to know this. It was through the power of the Spirit that Jesus did everything He did on this earth. It is our example, our model, and our pattern to follow.

Disciple Makers Series #2 by Al Ain Evangelical Church from the Free YouVersion Bible App

See for Yourself

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180-degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him. When you ask Jesus to forgive you He will. ALL your sins will be wiped clean — past, present, and future! And All means ALL!
  • Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the gift of Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

These people were baptized in my church on Sunday.

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

This is Amazing Grace

The Days of Elijah

Top image by Good News Productions International from (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

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