The Prophet John
Matthew 3:1-12 (Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18; John 1:6-13)
(1) In those days the prophet John, the Baptizer, went preaching into the wilderness of Judea. (The wilderness of Judea is the desert region located east of Jerusalem in the hill country of Judea and the Jordan Valley, measuring about 75 miles north-south and about 10 miles east-west).
(2) He proclaimed, “Repent and turn to God! The kingdom of heaven (God) has come near (is at hand)!” (3) This is the one who was spoken of in Isaiah 40:3, “A voice of one calling in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him.’ ”
(4) John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist (a similar description to that of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8), and he ate locusts and wild honey. (5) People went out to him from Jerusalem, Judea, and the whole region of the Jordan. (6) They confessed their sins and were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (The Jordan River is around 156 miles/251 km long, and flows north-south through the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea).
(7) But when John saw some Jewish religious leaders—Pharisees and Sadducees—coming to him to be baptized, he shouted to them, “You are a generation of snakes! Who told you to escape the coming wrath of God? (8) Live a life that shows that you have repented of your sins. (9) And stop saying that Abraham is your father. For I tell you the truth: God is able to raise up children for Abraham from the rocks on the ground. (10) Even now the ax is ready to cut the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
(11) “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than me. I am not worthy even to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (probably refers to the judgment of God). (12) His pitchfork is in his hand, and he will separate the wheat from the waste. He will gather his wheat into his barn, and burn up the waste with a fire that never goes out.”
The Baptism of Jesus
Matthew 3:13-17 (Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23)
(13) Then Jesus traveled from Galilee to the Judean wilderness to be water-baptized by John in the Jordan River. (14) But John tried to stop Jesus from being baptized, and said to him, “Why do you come to me? I need to be baptized by you.” (15) Jesus said to him, “Let me be baptized by you now, because it is good for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John did as Jesus asked.
(16) Jesus was baptized. As soon as Jesus came up out of the water, John immediately saw heaven open, and the Spirit of God come down like a dove, staying on Jesus. (17) And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am very pleased.”