Friday, October 2, 2015

Matthew 3 John the Baptist

 Stained glass Baptistery window at Hamburg Arkansas

SLIDE   1   Are you a people pleaser? Though I want everyone to feel comfortable and cared for while they are at CBS. It is not my focus to seek human approval. One friend of mine in water aerobics cannot understand why I do not enjoy Halloween. This girl is crafty and can make anything: hats, wreaths, stadium seats! She describes the spooky decorations she has around her house and even the graveyard they has constructed on her empty lot. “I think its fun!” she argues. “Well, I think it’s scary.” You will always find someone who disagrees with your choices or opinions. That is why I do not discuss politics!
We can’t live our lives trying to please people. “In fact, if our lives consist in little more than seeking human approval, we have left God out of the equation.
Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Tonight we are going to focus on what motivates our actions. As we study Matthew 3 “look” at the various people who came to see John the Baptist in the wilderness. Whose approval were they seeking? PRAYER
SLIDE  2  
·        John the Baptist
o   Miraculous birth
o   In the spirit and power of Elijah
o   Preaching in the Wilderness
·        All of Judea
o   Came out
o   Repented
o   Were baptized
·        Pharisees and Sadducees
o   High ranking official
o   Live by the law
o   Differences in beliefs
·        Jesus
o   Righteous One
o   Our example
o   Our High Priest
What motivates our actions? Who are you trying to please?
SLIDE   3   John the Baptist, like Isaac and Samuel in the OT, was born to a woman perceived to be barren well past the age of carrying a child. That makes his birth miraculous. His mother Elizabeth and his father were from the tribe of Levi. The angel of the LORD told, Zachariah the priest “15  for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. Luke 1:15-This makes us assume he was a Nazarite. The word signifies separation. Some men like John and Samson were appointed of God, before their birth, to be Nazarites.
SLIDE  4 If you will open your Bible to Matthew 3
1In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew simply used the term kingdom of heaven instead of kingdom of God so as to avoid offence to Jewish readers, who often rejected direct references to God and would refer to His dwelling place instead of Him directly.
Matthew3:3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'"
John identifies himself by quoting Isaiah 40:3 3           A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
John was seeking to fulfill his mission give by God before he was born. He was bent on pleasing God not men. Who are you trying to please?
SLIDE   5   In ancient times, when a king was going to visit a city, he would send before him someone to herald his coming, someone to announce that he would be arriving soon. The herald would go around the city, and go before the leaders of the city, telling them all, “The king is coming.”
This herald also served as an inspector. He would go around the city and make a list of things that needed to be fixed. He would tell them, “Clean up your city. Fix the roads; make them smooth and straight. Make sure the town is gleaming. Make sure the city is fit for a king to ride through.”
John is telling those in and around Judea to prepare their hearts, to cleanse their lives of unrighteousness, to repent and change your ways. He was not being a people pleaser?
Spurgeon *"Men's hearts were like a wilderness, wherein there is no way; but as loyal subjects throw up roads for the approach of beloved kings(princes), so were men to welcome the Lord, with their hearts made right and ready to receive him."
SLIDE 6   4Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.5Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  The Greek word bap-tid-zo, means to completely immerse.  They wanted to please God by their actions.
To repent is not about how you "feel."  It is an action word. Repentance speaks of a change of direction, not a sorrow in the heart.
I can imagine that John was quite a spectacle in his “garment of camel's hair” eating locusts and honey crying out in the wilderness. As a Nazarite he would have long hair and drank no wine. Many people came out in the wilderness to hear his unique style of preaching; Many were just curious while others were called by the LORD.
Luke 1: 16-17(The angel to his father) he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, …., to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."
SLIDE  7   Most of us may remember the stories of Elijah the great prophet of God; his contest with the 500 prophets of Baal and being fed by raven as he hid from Jezebel wife of Israel King Ahab. Later on in Jesus’ ministry Elijah will appear with Moses on the mount of transfiguration. At the Jewish Passover Seder meal, an empty chair is set at the table for Elijah. One thing I failed to remember was the way he dressed.
2 Kings 1:7-8 King Ahaziah son of (Ahab and Jezebel) said to them, "What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?"
8They answered him, "He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist." And he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite." Hmmm another similarity.
SLIDE  8   7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
He did not pull any punches when visited by the Pharisees and Sadducees. John’s own father was a priest, but he recognized those who were not producing good fruit.
They were proud of their position in the temple; proud of being Abraham’s seed.
Why do you think these temple priests came out to see John?
Whose approval were they seeking?
SLIDE  9 11"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John is preparing the crowds for Jesus. He humbly admits his role as forerunner.
12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
SLIDE  10   13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
14John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
John here shows high esteem and deference to Jesus.
15But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented.
Why would Jesus need to be baptized? He knew no sin. One commentary said He was our High Priest and he needed to be cleansed with water as Moses did to Aaron and his sons. I think He submitted to the will of His father.
SLIDE   11   Philippians 2:7-8 Jesus made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
He was our example for humility.
“Here is the path to the higher life: down, lower down! Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds men abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.”  Andrew Murray
SLIDE   12   16And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;
17            and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Beloved- precious, adored, much loved, cherished, treasured, prized, highly regarded, admired, esteemed, worshiped, revered, 
 Three times God spoke to His Son from heaven: at his baptism, at the transfiguration in Matthew 17, and at the cross. What a statement! Jesus was the Son of God.
Don’t we long for Jesus to greet us in heaven and say, ”Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
SLIDE   13 Billy Graham say Our Society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone –except God.
SLIDE 14  Are you willing to forsake the approval of men and stand up for Jesus?
Give of your best to the Master.

“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.”
Andrew Murray