No Easy Options
My Lord, I want to be like You. Show me in Your Word today what it looks like to follow You.
Read Matthew 3:1–12
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 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. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
7 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? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 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. 10 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.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 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.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectDo you ever struggle to do what God wants? Read on…
For the sixth time (excluding the genealogy of chapter 1), Matthew quotes the Old Testament, emphasizing again that Jesus is the climax to God’s plan. John is clearly preparing the people for something momentous. Matthew’s readers knew Isaiah 40:3, which speaks about God leading his people out of exile in Babylon. Now God is doing something much greater.
John’s appearance may seem strange to us, but prophets don’t always fit the mold. His character and his message make an impact. His calling is to prepare the way. How does he do it (8)? This is the standard prophetic message. Repentance is not about being sorry but about coming back to God when we have turned away, and living as he wants. There’s no pretending here—the way we live will show what we really want (8). The tragedy of Israel was that throughout their history they demonstrated a cycle of turning away and coming back. They couldn’t stick with it.
Now things will be different (11). God gives us a new power to live as God wants. We don’t need to struggle on in our own strength; we can rely on the Holy Spirit at work within us.
Commit to God aspects of your life where you struggle to show the changed attitudes and behavior that God looks for.
God, give me new strength through the Holy Spirit as I seek to be like You.