Lord, as I come to Your Word now, I pray that You will make me fully ready to receive it.
Read MATTHEW 3:1-12
 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea  and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'”  John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.  People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.  Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.  And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.  The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did John see his role in relation to Jesus?
We know little about Jesus’ relationship with his cousin John. Matthew doesn’t bother with introductions, but simply announces that John started preaching (2). His appearance was somewhat unusual (4) but that didn’t seem to hurt his effectiveness (5). His role was to prepare people for Jesus’ coming by preaching that they should “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near (2).” He was challenging all who flocked to hear him to be prepared for the Lord.
With words of spine-tingling power, John lays the ground for Jesus’ message of judgment and salvation. His baptism with water would give way to baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire (11), although there is no suggestion that Matthew believed that baptism with water was obsolete (28:19). Elsewhere, Matthew binds the two cousins together—see 11:16-19; 17:12,13; 21:23-27.
John, however, also deserves a place in his own right. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and was in some ways as much of a challenge to the authorities as his younger cousin.
When God uses someone to shed unwelcome light on what he wants you to do or be, how do you respond?
Lord, keep my spirit open to the work of Your Spirit to mold and make me all I should be.