Matthew 3

This devotional is written by Paul Blandford.

Matthew 3

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

"A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"

4 John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."  

Reflection

Jesus acts humbly and obediently by choosing to be baptised by John. He is filled with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit rests, stays on him and he hears God the Father declare and affirm who he is: "This is my Son, chosen, the delight of my life" (Message version).

It's from this place of humble submission and obedience, of being fully, continually filled by the Spirit and unshakably confident in the unconditional approval and delight of the Father that Jesus goes to teach, to perform miracles and healings, challenges the religious authorities, redefines the kingdom of God, faces opposition and finally endures the pain, humiliation and death on the cross.

Following Jesus in these ways, the disciples went onto bring in the kingdom of God. And we are also called to follow and minister in the power and love of God. They were not, and we are not perfect in this as Jesus was. But we can grow in this new way of living and experience the power of God at work in us just as Jesus did.

So that's that sorted then!

Actually, I know that my default operating system is to do things to get to the place of approval and connection with God. But in this past 18 months lots of the things I do have been stopped and I have fewer opportunities to prove myself to God. What I have been learning though is that the very purpose of my existence is to be loved by God. This is what you and I are created for, to be unconditionally loved and live with God's Spirit present in us every moment and place, to do the works of grace the He has prepared in advance for us to do.

Take some time to sit quietly and allow the eternal divine creator to say to you "You are my beloved child". Allow yourself to rest and sink into God's unconditional love. And then do it again tomorrow

"You are Beloved" - God.
"To be is to do" - Socrates.
"To do is to be" - Jean-Paul Sartre.
"Do be do be do" - Frank Sinatra.        

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