It looks like our current hurricane season is going to be a tad more active than in the last 10 years. We’re already getting advisories about having our emergency supplies and evacuation procedures in place. There are a lot of things that take us by surprise in life, but hurricanes are not usually one of them. We have as much as a week to prepare in many cases. Meterologists give us the heads up; “Storm’s a comin’!” and it’s up to us whether we heed that forecast or not.
As we continue our study in Matthew this week we’ll be reading chapter 3. We’re going to be introduced to a forecaster – John the Baptist, who will be announcing the arrival of the Messiah and the launch of God’s kingdom invasion.
As you read John’s message, what does his major theme seem to be? What is he calling people to do? What do you think his instructions meant to a Jewish person living in the first century? What does that mean to us, as 21st Century Americans? What sort of radical changes have taken place in your life as a result of embracing the Good News of Jesus?
The Pharisees and Sadducees show up too, and John doesn’t give them the greeting they are accustomed to. What does he seem to highlight as the problem with these religious leaders? Why does he call them snakes? What do you think it means to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance”?
John warns us that it wont all be rainbows and cupcakes when Messiah comes on the scene. He warns of an ax cutting the roots of a tree and of an unquenchable fire. Who was he talking to when using these metaphors? What warning would we personally take from his words?
When Jesus shows up he does something that surprises everyone, including John. He gets in line for his turn to be baptized. John is nonplussed. “You’re the Messiah, come to save us from sin…I need to be baptized by you…what do YOU need to repent of?” It’s a puzzling scene to this day. Jesus said he needed to do it to fulfill all righteousness. In other words – the righteousness, the setting things right that God intends comes through a Messiah who stands in the river with humanity, indentifying with them in their state; Taking their baptism onto himself. What other ways does Messiah identify with humanity to save us?
Hope to see you Sunday!