A Study of Matthew | Chapter 3
Here are my notes for Chapter 3 of Matthew.
Verses 1-6 About thirty years had gone by since chapter 2. John is thought to be the cousin of Jesus because in Luke 1:36 an angel told Mary her “cousin” Elizabeth is also pregnant. This could have been blood relative or a fellow countryman from the same nation. Either way John is identified as a cousin of Jesus. John became a well known preacher around that time. He was the first major recognized prophet in 400 years, since the book of Malachi, and he wasn’t afraid to call out the leaders of that time of sin. He was most famously known for calling out king Herod. When someone stands up against corruption, they tend to draw followers. He came into the scene telling people to “Repent of their sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Jesus was the embodiment of the Kingdom of Heaven. In Kingdom culture when an official representative of the Kingdom is present, it is the same as the Kingdom itself being there. This statement is the same exact statement Jesus will say later in chapter 4. John wore a leather belt around his waist which Elijah also wore in 2 Kings 1:8. He is prophesied in Malachi 4:5 as the prophet Elijah. He is also referenced in the old testament book of the Catholic church Sirach. He is also referenced in Isaiah 40:3 as “a voice shouting in the wilderness.” Baptism came from the purification talked about in Isaiah and Ezekiel. The book of Ezekiel talks about sprinkling clean water which is some of the reason some denominations believe baptism can be practiced with just a sprinkle of water. Baptisms were common in the Jewish culture of that time.
Verses 7-12 Pharisees separated themselves from anyone who was not Jewish. They followed all the Old Testament laws and oral traditions carried down with each generation. They were composed of all classes of people. They were more concerned with being legalistic while ignoring the intention for the laws that were given. Sadducees were believers in the Pentateuch alone, which were the books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy). They were made up of priestly nobility. They also used religion to gain political position. The two groups hated each other but even more so came to hate Jesus. John explains that a biological does not save a person from sin. There are still some people who believe that they are more important to God based solely on their descendents. John said someone was coming far greater than himself to the point where he isn’t even worthy to carry his sandals. In the Jewish culture, carrying the shoes of a Rabbi was too low of a task for the disciple, so the slaves would carry them. John was showing that Jesus is far greater than all the teachers as well, which also heightened the tense of the religious teachers. The baptism by fire took place in Acts and could have been a symbol of purification as fire purifies gold. The winnowing fork was used to toss grain in the air where the useless chaff would be blown away and the wheat would fall back down to be collected. We should never become useless to the Kingdom of God.
Verses 13-17 There are many reason why people say Jesus was baptized. One of the main reason I see is that he was showing us how to claim our identity as Kingdom citizens. He began his ministry shortly afterward and brought the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. We are to follow in his footsteps, so we too should be baptized. Jesus never sinned so it wasn’t to wash away his sins, but as a public proclamation of identity. His identity came to him from God the father after he raised out of the water. God gives us our identity which is truly fulfilled after the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us. The same Holy Spirit that came upon Jesus also came upon us as Kingdom citizens.