This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.
John the Baptist’s ministry was to call Israelites to repent of their sins, believing that the promised Christ was coming (vv. 1-3). Only then would they be ready to receive him. They publicly testified of their repentance and readiness to receive the Messiah by being baptized (vv. 5-6). True repentance is concretely seen in a changed, everyday life.
The reason why John called Israelites to repent was because “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (v. 2). Jews had such reverence for God’s name that they substituted “heaven” for “God.” Thus, “kingdom of God” is the same as “kingdom of heaven.” Note that the kingdom was not present: “at hand” means near—it was not present but approaching fast.
Jesus was baptized, not to show he repented of sin (he had none) but because he was committed to doing what was right (v. 15). The Holy Spirit’s coming upon Jesus was God’s public endorsement of Jesus to be Israel’s King (cf. Acts 10:38). The Father commended Jesus as the Messiah (v. 17), Israel’s King and sinner’s Savior.
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- One can be very religious and very lost (v. 7). Merely being religious cannot deal with sin; there must be repentance from sin and submissive faith in Jesus the Christ.
- True repentance is only seen by a changed life. If one’s life continues to be characterized by sin there has not been saving repentance, and one will face God’s judgment (v. 10).
- None will enter Christ’s coming kingdom who have not repented of sin and self-righteousness.
- The only way to saved from God’s wrath is by repenting of sin (v. 7). God’s wrath is coming!