What is baptism with the Holy Spirit? (Matthew 3:11-12)

John the Baptist coined this term, as a way of contrasting his ministry with Jesus’. What did he mean?

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Open Matthew 3:11-12.

What is baptism with the Holy Spirit? John said he baptized with water, but the coming king would baptize his people with Holy Spirit and fire. All later uses of this phrase refer back to John (except 1 Corinthians 12:13), so understanding what he meant is crucial to understanding the phrase. Continue reading “What is baptism with the Holy Spirit? (Matthew 3:11-12)”

Heaven’s proclamation of Jesus (Matthew 3:17)

What did God announce at Jesus’ baptism?

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Caernarfon Castle, 1969: Investiture of Prince Charles

Open Matthew 3:16-17.

Imagine standing on the banks of the Jordan as Jesus surfaced, hearing a voice proclaiming, “This is my Son, the one I love, who pleases me.” What would that mean to you?

You would not have thought, “Just look at that! The Father called him the Son, and the Spirit descended on him. There must be a trinity!” That understanding didn’t come until much later. So how would a first century Jew have understood the heavenly announcement? Continue reading “Heaven’s proclamation of Jesus (Matthew 3:17)”

Jesus’ priestly purification (Matthew 3:13-16)

Why was Jesus baptized if he wasn’t guilty?

Open Matthew 3:13-16.

Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Others came confessing their sins (3:6). Jesus joined them. John refused, at least initially. Why did Jesus think he should be baptized to fulfil all righteousness (3:15)? Continue reading “Jesus’ priestly purification (Matthew 3:13-16)”

Where did baptism come from? (Matthew 3:6)

Christian baptism has its origins in John’s baptism, but why did John baptize?

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Miqveh (ritual bath) at Qumran

Why did Jewish people come out to John to be “baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (3:6)? There’s nothing about baptism in the Old Testament. Sure, John would have been a curiosity: there were few prophets in living memory. But why did people take the plunge with John? Continue reading “Where did baptism come from? (Matthew 3:6)”

A voice in the wild (Matthew 3:1-6)

There’s a fascinating story behind John the Baptist’s life in the wilderness.

Open Matthew 3:1-6 and Isaiah 40.

He wasn’t a Baptist. Or a Protestant. But John the Baptizer certainly was a protester.

John shunned the benefits that human rulers provided to their towns: streets, markets, wells, walls, peace and security. He wouldn’t trade with them. His clothes were an anti-fashion statement, fashioned from whatever he scavenged — like hair from a dead camel. He survived on bush tucker — like grasshoppers and wild honey (3:4). Who knows where he took shelter from rain and wind. Continue reading “A voice in the wild (Matthew 3:1-6)”