Friday, September 9
Matthew 3:1-17 NASB
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make his paths straight!’”
Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
“This great gift of God, the salvation of our souls, is no other than the image of God fresh stamped on our hearts. It is a ‘renewal of believers in the spirit of their minds, after the likeness of Him that created them.’ God hath now laid ‘the axe unto the root of the tree, purifying their hearts by faith,’ and ‘cleansing all the thoughts of their hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit.’ Having this hope, that they shall see God as he is, they `purify themselves even as he is pure,’ and are ‘holy, as he that hath called them is holy, in all manner of conversation.’ Not that they have already attained all that they shall attain, either are already in this sense perfect. But they daily ‘go on from strength to strength; beholding’ now, ‘as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.’”
John Wesley, Christian Perfection.
We see a lot of religious perfection throughout the Bible yet it stands in stark contrast with the way God goes about perfect. Matthew opens his Jesus story with a genealogical record, tracing his lineage all the way back through David to Abraham. Matthew establishes genealogical perfection to develop proof for his readers. Look closer. In these days no one included women in an official genealogy. Matthew names no less than five. First there’s Tamar, who posed as a prostitute to deceive Judah into sleeping with her. Rahab, a bonafide prostitute, comes next. Then comes Ruth, the Moabite? Gentiles in the genealogy of the King of the Jews! You bet. Following comes a name so unmentionable in the annals of Israel she isn’t even named. Matthew refers to her as Solomon’s mother, noting she had been Uriah’s wife. Remember Uriah, the Hittite, whom David essentially murdered after practically raping his wife? Finally, we see the name of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who as a teenager became pregnant out of wedlock by the Holy Spirit. Perfection? Far from it. Perfect? Absolutely!