The Aim of this devotional study is to grow in understanding and obedience of Biblical baptism.
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
- John brought about a big revival in Judea in his day. Let’s ask the interrogative questions to understand John’s Baptism.
- What did John preach? (What was the core of his message?)
- Where and to whom did John preach?
- Why did John preach? (v3, v11-12)
- What was the result of John’s preaching? (v5-7)
- Think of what John was doing in his ministry – preaching repentance and baptizing people. Why do you think his prophetic ministry had such a powerful impact on the nation at that time? (Think of the link between his preaching and his action – word and symbolism).
- In essence, John’s purpose was called to prepare the Jewish nation by calling them out of their sinful ways and calling them to seek God and his way (repentance) and point out Jesus as the Messiah (Greek: the Christ). He said “I baptize with water… [Jesus] will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (v11) Read verse 12 to understand Jesus’ ministry compared to John’s ministry:
- What is the imagery used here to describe Jesus’ ministry?
- In the wheat sifting process – what is kept and what is discarded? How is it discarded?
- John says Jesus will “sift wheat with the winnowing fork” – whom will he sift and how will he sift them? What is another word for Jesus’ “sifting” ministry? [hint: think court of law…]
- Regarding Jesus ministry: Who will he baptize with Holy Spirit? And who will he baptize with fire? [for instance, look at John’s comments to the Pharisees v7-10]
- In conclusion, how does John and Jesus’ “baptism ministries” relate?
- “How one responds to John’s call to a baptism of repentance will determine whether Jesus will baptize you will the Holy Spirit or with fire.” What are your thoughts and feelings to this statement? Do you agree that repentance is necessary for salvation?
- When and how did you go through John’s baptism of repentance? How did you change so that there was a marked life difference (“fruit in keeping with your repentance” v8)?
Pray with David and ask God through his Spirit to lovingly reveal your heart to yourself, as he sees it, and respond appropriately: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalms 139:23-24)