Grow Through The Gospels: Matthew 3

Pastor Ed Young - Lead Pastor of Fellowship Church
Ed Young

June 5, 2024

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Grow Through The Gospels: Matthew 3

Read: Matthew 3

Matthew 3:1-2 “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’”

Think

In a world where eloquence and polish often take the spotlight, the choice of John the Baptist as the herald for King Jesus might seem unconventional. Typically, a herald was a well-prepared figure, someone who announced the coming of a king and ensured the roads were clear for his arrival. But John was different. Dressed in camel’s hair and living off locusts and wild honey, he was far from the polished front man one might expect. Yet, his mission was crucial: to prepare the way for Jesus. Just as servants in ancient times cleared paths for their kings, John cleared a spiritual path, proclaiming that the Messiah was near.

While Jesus grew up quietly in Nazareth, maturing into the man who would later lead a revolutionary ministry, John was out in the wilderness, calling people to repentance. He wasn’t just filling time until Jesus was ready to start his ministry at age 30; John was laying the groundwork. His message was simple and profound: "Repent and be baptized." He was calling people to prepare themselves, not just through ritual actions, but through genuine, heartfelt change.

John’s preaching in the arid wilderness near the north end of the Dead Sea was symbolic of his message. The barren landscape mirrored the spiritual barrenness he sought to combat. He challenged the hypocrisy and superficiality of temple worship and the broader cultural malaise. John’s call to repentance—derived from the Greek word "metanoia," meaning to turn around—wasn’t just about feeling sorry for sins; it was a radical call to forsake sin and embrace holiness. He implored his listeners to hear the still, small voice of God, to cleanse their lives of sin, and to radically reorient their hearts toward God’s kingdom.

John’s message culminated in a compelling, all-encompassing demand as he heralded the coming King: "The King is coming, and he wants everything." This wasn’t just a call to temporary change but a profound invitation to transform every aspect of their lives. John declared that the coming Messiah didn’t just want us to follow rituals; he wants our entire hearts, every part of our lives. As we reflect on John’s fiery dedication and unyielding message, let’s ask ourselves: are we ready to give everything to the King? Are we prepared to turn our paths, clear the way, and let Jesus reign completely in our lives?

Apply

God is not concerned with just what you say but with what you produce. How are you actively pursuing a life of holiness? Just as John called for radical transformation in preparation for Jesus, challenge yourself to take tangible steps toward change. Whether it’s through seeking forgiveness, reconciling a strained relationship, or simply choosing kindness over criticism, let these actions be your modern-day act of 'clearing the road' for Christ to enter more fully into your life.

Pray

Heavenly father, I want to prepare my heart for your reign. If there’s anything that doesn’t please you or honor you, help me identify it and get rid of it. Give me the courage to embrace change and follow your ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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