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Weekly Bible Study
“Matthew 3:1-6 Pt. 1”
by Art Sadlier   
July 4th, 2010

Matthew 3:1-6, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."

After 400 years of silence God was speaking to Israel again through a prophet. Excitement was at a fever pitch! The last message was recorded in Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts."

John had electrified Israel with the words, "The Kingdom of heaven is at hand". All Israel had anticipated that message! The king is coming! 

Alfred Edersheim says of Israel's anticipation of the kingdom. "The rule of heaven and the kingship of Jehovah was the very substance of the Old Testament; the object and mission of Israel; the meaning of all its ordinances whether civil or religious; the underlying idea of all its institutions.

Edersheim goes on to say that the Jewish concept of this kingdom had three basic ideas.

--It would be a universal kingdom.

--It would have a heavenly rule.

--It would be a permanent kingdom.

Inspite of all their anticipation, beyond those three things, they did not understand much more about the kingdom. Israel today is still looking for a Saviour King. Twenty years ago I stood on the main street of the town of Safad in Israel. I saw a huge billboard and on it were three words in large letters;    YESHUA  COME  NOW 

Similarily, in that day as John the Baptist began his ministry in the wilderness of Judea, the multitudes surged into the barren countryside to hear him.

As we consider these verses, I want you to see six things.

1 The man.   2 The message.  3 The motive.  4 The mission.  5 The manner.  6 The ministry.

1 -- THE MAN

Verse 1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of ,Judaea

In those days, this phrase is a transition between chapters 2 & 3. Nearly thirty years had passed since Joseph brought Mary and Jesus home to Nazareth. Except for a brief account by Luke of Jesus going to the Temple in His early teens, we know nothing of the life of Jesus during those thirty years.

Came John the Baptist”, we know nothing at all of the life of John the Baptist prior to this introduction.  We do know a little about his parents, they were humble people, they were righteous people, and they walked before God blamelessly.

We know John’s birth had been miraculous. No doubt he had been told the story many times. We also know that John had been promised a ministry by the Lord.

This we know - His conception was miraculous, his birth was miraculous, he was filled with the Holy Spirit before his birth, he was great in the sight of God, he was to herald the Messiah, he was to prepare the people for the Messiah. Jesus called him the greatest man that had lived to that time. Matthew 11:11, Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Up to that time John was the greatest man that had ever lived. His greatness was directly related to his calling and ministry. He performed the most important ministry any man had performed by heralding the Messiah.

“Came”= the Greek word “kerusso”= not preaching as we know it, it refers to the duty of an official in announcing the arrival of the King. It implies a loud shouting!

In the wilderness of Judea, John’s ministry and teaching took place in the wilderness of Judea. Judea is a stretch of barren hilly wilderness that runs about 20 miles east along the Jerusalem and Bethlehem plateau down to the Dead sea and the Jordan river.


Verse 2, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John’s message was “Repentance”. Repent is the heart and soul of John’s message. Greek word, “Metaneo” = more than regret or sorrow. It means to turn around, to change direction, to change the mind and will, a change from wrong to right, to turn from sin to righteousness.

True repentance involves a sorrow for sin that leads to a change of thinking, to a change of desires, to a change of conduct of life. 2 Corinthians 7:10, For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

The bible teaches us that there is a genuine repentance that results in salvation. It also teaches that there is an incomplete repentance that is only sorry for the consequences of sin and does not bring salvation. John’s message was a call for a completely different life!

Philip Keller said, “Repentance is not a once for all experience that takes place only at the time of conversion. It is in fact a daily sacrifice, a daily experience, in which we see ourselves as we really are in the white, intense light of Christ’s character and His Word, so that we daily turn to Him for cleansing and forgiveness. It is the bold willingness to continually face our sins and to come to hate them with utter disdain and stern intensity because they are such a grief to Christ and such a corruption of our own character.”

We are reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:4. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

True repentance is the key to the blessing of God on the life and the means of true salvation. Today, by and large, the church is powerless and the gospel seems to be lacking in power to change the lives of those who respond. The need of the hour is true, genuine repentance that involves the forsaking of sin, which will result in a transformed life.

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