1In those days, John the Baptizer came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” 3For this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,

make the way of the Lord ready!

Make his paths straight!”

4Now John himself wore clothing made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then people from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him. 6They were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance! 9Don’t think to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire.

11“I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.”

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John would have hindered him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?”

15But Jesus, answering, said to him, “Allow it now, for this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him.

16Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him. 17Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

John the Baptist

Biography | Matt 3:1 | Jeffrey Kershner | Machaerus

A cousin of Jesus and His prophesied forerunner (Isa 40:3), John the Baptist led a short but intensely significant life. John was set apart as a Nazarite (nazirנזיר) from birth and lived in the desert where he became “strong in spirit” (Luke 1:80; Num 6:1-21). His ministry was characterized by preaching in the wilderness a baptism “of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4) Even though he performed no miracles (John 4:41) as a prophet, Jesus said that John was the greatest of prophets. He baptized Jesus “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). Soon afterward, John understood that he “must decrease” in influence so that the Messiah could “increase” (John 3:30). Not afraid to confront authorities, he called the Pharisees a “generation of vipers” (Matt 3:7) and judged Herod Antipas for marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias (Matt 14:4). For this last act John was thrown in prison at Machaerus on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea (Unger, Dictionary, 600). While there John apparently became discouraged and sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus confirmed this through eyewitness testimony of several miracles and his proclamation of the good news to the poor (Matt 11:2-6). Soon afterwards John the Baptist was beheaded for having offended Herodias about her marital state, even spoken about by the Jewish historian Josephus.

(Matt 3:1-13; Luke 1:7-39)