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The Preperation of the Messiah

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When I was in South Africa, a fine, handsome Dutchman came into my service, and God laid His hand on him and convicted him of sin. The next morning he went to the beautiful home of another Dutchman and said to him, “Do you recognize that old watch?” “Why, yes," … More

Repentance

In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life here on earth he skips over the next 30 years or so and picks up with an introduction of John the Baptist (vv. 1-6). We find John preaching in the Judean wilderness which is along the western shore of the Dead Sea. He was a son of Zacharias and Elizabeth and a cousin of the Lord. Jesus said of him that there was none greater than John (Matthew 11:11).

For over 400 years, the nation had not heard the voice of a prophet. The fact John is preaching a message of repentance, is a fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (v. 3). Although John is a New Testament character he is considered the last of the prophets of Israel. His appearance (wearing a rough coat of camel’s hair and having a leather belt around his waist) and his dynamic preaching certainly depicts him in the life-style of Israel’s ancient prophets (v. 4).

John’s preaching centered on repentance and the kingdom of heaven (v . 2). The word repent means a change of mind that leads to a change of action. Repentance is not just sorrow but involves a complete change of attitude toward God and sin and is accompanied by a sense of sorrow and a corresponding change in conduct. John was not satisfied with regret or remorse but there also had to be evidence of a changed mind and a changed life. John’s message of repentance was necessary in order to prepare people for the kingdom of heaven which was at hand. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used only in the Gospel of Matthew.

Application

What people have been like John the Baptist in my life? How did they prepare me to meet Jesus?  It would be good to write them a note!

Matthew 3:1-6 (English Standard Version)

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 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.'" Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »

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