The Messianic Forerunner
“After me comes one… whose sandals I am not worthy to carry” (Matt. 3:11). O come, let us adore HIM!
Read Matthew 3:1-12
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Because of Christmas Day, nothing can ever be the same again.
Matthew’s story now fast-forwards to the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, passing over the silent years of growth in Nazareth and setting the scene by describing the ministry of John the Baptist. The social and religious tensions in the nativity story are still present 30 years later as the prophetic preaching of John triggers both a mass movement of restless people hungry for change (5,6) and a predictable alarm within the religious elite whose representatives appear on the banks of the Jordan to investigate the firebrand preacher (7).
The scene suggests a contrast between the center of religious and political power in Jerusalem and the people at the margins. John, like the earlier prophets of Israel whom he so clearly resembles, is an outsider: remote geographically and socially from those who possess power and are given honor. His location “in the wilderness” (1), his austere and simple style of life and his radical message of imminent judgment and the need for repentance set him apart from those complicit with the imperial power in Jerusalem who had reduced Israel’s covenant faith to a pride in ethnic identity (8,9). The Jordan River had significant symbolic and strategic importance: it was here that the tribes of Israel had crossed into the Promised Land to overthrow oppressive kings and create a worshiping community of justice and equality. Here, too, streams of Jewish pilgrims traveling from the East now crossed the river en route to Jerusalem. At this very spot, John announced the coming of the alternative kingdom of heaven and launched a movement of renewal and revival.
However, at the core of his proclamation was the humble recognition that his role was merely a preparation for the coming of another, the Christ whose birth we celebrate today, who comes with “the Holy Spirit and fire” (11).
Give thanks for Jesus and ask him for a fresh anointing with the Holy Spirit (reread verse 11).
Lord, just as John the Baptist saw his role in life and was faithful to it, show me clearly what You want me to do.