The Firsts – Matthew 3

Preached at Riverview the morning of January 22, 2017

Matthew_3_The_Firsts.jpgMatthew 3:15-17 (KJV)  And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.  [16]  And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  [17]  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Chapter Three of Matthew is filled with Firsts.

  • This is the first ministry appearance of the Herald of the Messiah, John the Baptist.
  • In this chapter we hear the first recorded words our Lord Jesus Christ speaks.
  • And we see after the baptism of Jesus the first words of the Almighty Father endorsing Christ and Christ alone as Messiah.

I want us to look at these three Firsts today. Let’s start with

John The Baptist, The Herald Of The Messiah

Matthew 3:1 (KJV)  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the WILDERNESS of Judaea,

John the Baptist is the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, the cousin of Mary the mother of Christ. John was born about 6 months before Christ was born. He was born to a mother well past child bearing years to fulfill God’s prophecy of Isaiah 40:3, a prophecy Matthew quotes:

Matthew 3:3 (KJV)  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet {Isaiah}, saying, The voice of one crying in the WILDERNESS, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

The King of Kings has a Herald, one who will announce His Coming, and this Herald is John. Where is John preaching? The Bible tells us that he came:

preaching in the wilderness

Why isn’t he preaching in the Temple?

Why doesn’t he start in the Temple, then move to the wilderness?

  1. I believe it is first of all because simply the prophecy said he would preach in the wilderness. What God has promised, He does.

  2. But secondly, the Temple of God, a place supposedly to be used to glorify God, has been corrupted by RELIGION and RITUAL.

That which makes the Temple a holy place and the Church
a blessed place is that God is in the place.

When Moses spoke to God before a burning bush God told him

Exodus 3:5 (KJV) … Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

The burning bush was holy because God was there communing with His son. The Garden of Eden was holy while God walked with man every day. The Temple was holy when God was in it, when God and His glory was its focus. The Church is holy as long as God is in this place, as long as we are glorifying Him, living for Him, loving Him.

John is in the wilderness because the Temple is corrupt.

But the devil goes into the wilderness, too.

John looks out and sees those who have corrupted the Temple. He speaks to them, and John is not politically correct. No man of God can afford to be. We read:

Matthew 3:7-10 (KJV)  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  [8]  Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:  [9]  And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.  [10]  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

John calls the self righteous Pharisees and Sadducees – the conservative and liberal religious crowd – a

generation of vipers

Vipers are sneaky, and their mouths are poisonous. Vipers hide in plain sight, their colors blending them into the background. John told these religious hypocrites to “bring forth fruits meet for repentance” or

Matthew 3:8 (NASB) Therefore bear fruit in keeping with REPENTANCE;

People were coming to John and hearing his message

Matthew 3:2 (KJV)  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Repent Is The First Word In Salvation

Though the Pharisees and Sadducees left the Temple and came to the wilderness to see John, they in reality had not repented. The first word of salvation is to repent. People today often define repent as:

to feel sorry for something you did or are doing

They make “repentance” a thing of feelings. But repentance doesn’t have as much to do with feelings as it does with action. Repentance is the Greek μετάνοια metanoia = meta (to change) + noia (the mind), literally “to change your mind”. Someone at Enduring Word described it this way:

Repentance does not describe something we must do before we come to God; it describes what coming to God is like. If you are in New York, and I tell you to come to Los Angeles, I don’t really need to say “Leave New York and come to Los Angeles.” To come to Los Angeles is to leave New York, and if I haven’t left New York, I certainly haven’t come to Los Angeles. We can’t come to the kingdom of heaven unless we leave our sin and the self-life.”

and may I add this. Unless you direct your mind to come to Los Angeles, unless you leave New York, you will never get there. The Pharisees and Sadducees left the Temple, but their minds were not focused on God when they went to see John.

  • Repent was the first word in John the Baptist’s preaching:

Matthew 3:2 (KJV) …. REPENT ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

  • Repent was the first word in Jesus’ preaching:

Matthew 4:17 (KJV) … Jesus began to preach, and to say, REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

  • When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach, what was their message?

Mark 6:12 (KJV) And they went out, and preached that men should REPENT.

  • It is repentance that leads to remission of sins (Luke 24:47) according to our Lord Jesus. This is why the first word in Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost was:

Acts 2:38 (KJV) … REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

You cannot be right with God while YOU are GOD. You must REPENT.

The repenting soul says “I know I am not God. I know I am a sinner, and I know I need a Savior. I will stop following me and stop living for me. I will go to God’s Son believing He died for me. I want His salvation and His direction in my life.”

As John baptized these precious repenting people in the Jordan (and he did NOT baptize even ONE Pharisee or Sadducee) his focus was on preaching Christ. The Messiah was coming. John said:

Matthew 3:11 (KJV)  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear…

The vast crowds are coming to John to repent and be baptized, but John wants them to focus not on him but on Jesus. John says:

I am not worthy to bear His shoes

This is God in the flesh. This is the Son of God to Whom the Father said:

Hebrews 1:6 (KJV) … when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

He is God in the flesh, the God-Man, perfect and sinless Man and infinite God. The Father declared:

Hebrews 1:8 (KJV)  But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

John was not in the wilderness preaching the Health and Prosperity Gospel so prevalent in America today. John was not in the wilderness preaching the meek and mild Jesus Who loves us, and expects nothing of us Gospel so prevalent among Evangelicalism today. John preached Jesus. He said:

Matthew 3:11-12 (KJV) {Jesus} shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:  [12]  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Jesus is coming to gather His wheat, but to burn up the chaff. Jesus is coming to destroy evil, wickedness, and sin. Chaff is the worthless residue of a wheat stalk after the good kernel of grain is removed. When wheat was harvested it was tossed up into the air on a fan. The wind carried the chaff off, while the heavier wheat fell to the ground. Jesus was coming to shake up the world. He shakes up the world even now. He will burn up the chaff with UNQUENCHABLE FIRE. Jesus Christ came to be the Savior of the world. The Bible tells us that:

1 John 4:14 (ESV) … we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.

1 Timothy 2:6 (KJV) {Jesus} GAVE HIMSELF A RANSOM FOR ALL, to be testified in due time.

1 John 2:2 (KJV) {Jesus} is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but ALSO FOR THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD.

2 Corinthians 5:15 (KJV)  And that HE DIED FOR ALL, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Jesus Christ came to this earth to show us His sinlessness. He was without sin. He lived a perfect life, but then died not for His sins but for ours. Jesus Christ came to save whosoever believeth Him, but He will one day judge those who have rejected Him with unquenchable fire.

Then Jesus Comes

Matthew 3:13-14 (KJV)  Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.  [14]  But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Who told Jesus He had to be baptized? Before Jesus started His earthly ministry He came from Galilee (Nazareth was in Galilee) to Jordan to be baptized by John. John immediately baulked at baptizing Jesus. He said:

Jesus, You should be baptizing Me, not I You!

But I want you to notice the first recorded words of Christ in the Gospel. Jesus said:

Matthew 3:15 (KJV)  And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Let’s put that in a little more modern English. Jesus said:

Matthew 3:15 (NKJV) … “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

Jesus said “we must fulfill ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS”. John must do what God the Father set him to do. He must introduce the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But both Jesus as well as John must “fulfill all righteousness”. In His baptism Jesus identified Himself with the world He had come to save. Others were coming to John to repent of their sins, but Jesus came to John to fulfill all righteousness. He was not repenting, but was willing to lower Himself for our sake. The Baptism of Jesus and baptism of the believer represented two different things.

The Baptism of Jesus represented Him submitting Himself to the will of God. It represented that Jesus was willing to surrender Himself to the hands of sinful man. Jesus would not be taken at Calvary, but He would lay His life down for us.

1 John 3:16 (ESV) By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us …

The unbaptized Pharisees and Sadducees would hate Jesus, just as the fallen world hates Jesus. They would plot to take His life. Yet Jesus said:

John 10:17-18 (NKJV) … My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. …

John 15:13 (NKJV) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Jesus laid Himself in John’s hands. He had nothing to repent off. He need not “bring forth fruits meet for repentance”. Jesus is pure, and holy, and just. Jesus Christ is the very righteousness of God in human form.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

John, we must fulfill all righteousness”. Christ must be submitted to the will of the Father. He must be lowered into the waters of death so that we can drink of the river of life.

In His baptism Jesus was numbered with the sinners. In His death Jesus was numbered with the sinners. He died a death He did not deserve, so we could gain a life that we do not deserve. At ther beginning of His ministry Jesus looked forward to the Cross. He knew it was coming in just over three years.

It is interesting that in His ministry Jesus had His disciples baptize others in water, and yet Jesus Himself never baptized one person. Why? Because Jesus Baptizes His believers in the Spirit of God. He sends the Holy Spirit upon those who receive Him as Lord and Savior. He empowers us. He uses us as His Temple. It is said that

Israel had a Temple where they were to worship God

But now in Christ the Believer is the Temple of God

Jesus is the One Who “shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). The Christian is indwelt by Christ. God is with you where ever you may go. He joins with us at the point of repentance unto salvation and has promised:

I will never leave you, nor forsake you!

As soon as Jesus was baptized we read:

Matthew 3:16-17 (KJV)  And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  [17]  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

that both the Holy Spirit as well as the Father witnessed Christ. The Spirit of God descending like a dove landed on Jesus. Christ would minister the next 3 ½ years through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. And then the Father spoke:

This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased

I am sure that the Father was pleased with John, and pleased that many were repenting and coming to Him by faith. The Bible tells us that:

Luke 15:10 (ESV) …. there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Oh how God loves it when a sinner returns home, coming to Him by faith! There is joy, rejoicing, a celebration when some one turns from following the false gods of self and satan and turns to the Savior. God is pleased with that.

But in Christ God the Father is WELL PLEASED

There is only One Son. There is only One Savior. There is only One Person in all of human history that God has declared:

In Him I am WELL PLEASED

and that Person is Jesus Christ. Do not believe that God is pleased in you if you are not pleased in Him the Father is well pleased in. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to peace with God. Religion will not get you there. The world will not get you there. Only Jesus can get you there. As He surrendered to John, as He surrendered to the Cross, as He surrendered to death, so YOU must surrender to Him.

Come unto Him, all you that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest.

May God lead many to Christ through the preaching of His Word and the power of His Spirit!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. I am looking for the Church. Most of what I see today is not the Church, but clubs, where members sit in padded pews and drink deeply of self. I am looking for a people willing to be righteous not self righteous, serving not served, In short, I am looking and praying for a people who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. I hope I find this people before it's too late.
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