Matthew 3:1-12



1. The herald preaches the message he is given. He doesn't have to be create the message.

2. The wilderness is a place that has been abandoned by people. In John's case it was both a physical place where the Essenes had fled from the corruption in the city and at the temple. The theological place or the wilderness was John's message of repentance and of the kingdom of heaven.

3. Two key components of John's message were picked up by Jesus in his first messages and handed to the disciples. These two words are the essence of Christianity:

a. Repent - change your mind from evil to God's truth

b. Kingdom of Heaven - the kingdom of Heaven is coming to take over reality.

4. The voice belonged to the herald who had the message. The message is the focus. Not the voice or the messenger.

5. Confession of sin is basic to fellowship with God and with his kingdom (Psalm 32:1-5; Daniel 9:4, 20)

6. Repenting (changing of the mind) will "produce" works that are in line with that change. Repentance comes first, deeds are produced second.



Isaiah 40:3

Luke uses same verse but quotes more

Mark adds words from Malachi 3:1


John came predicting doom from the hand of God


"in those days" = "in those crucial days", "in that critical time"


"Preaching" is the Greek work "kerusso" which means "to proclaim, to make known by a hearld". The emphasis would be on the message not the man or messenger. It is not important who brought the message. What was important was:

a. The message

b. Who sent the message


         "wilderness" of Judea includes a sandy dessert, but also remote places with steep hills, rocks, and includes the Jordan valley. Since John had water to baptize it could not refer to the dry, sandy dessert.


Herod Antipas controlled Perea just to the east of the Jordan and parts on the west side. Antipas later arrests John.



We see in this verse the key focus of the Christian message:

1. Repent

2. Kingdom of Heaven


         "Repent" is the first word.

         Mark and Luke record "preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

         This was Jesus' first word. (Matthew 4:17)

         The disciples were sent out to call people to repent (Mark 6;12)

         Matthew uses "repent" in the imperative with no theology attached to it.

         "Repent" ("metanoeo") means "to change one's thinking, to change one's mind, to turn around"

         The Greek use of the word "repent" means to change one's mind, but it could be from good to bad opinion or from bad to good. It is not an ethical change but it simply speaks of the mind or opinion. The Greek writings do not make the word "repent" (metanoeo) an ethical one.


The reason John tells them to repent is "the kingdom of heaven is coming.

  • Kingdom of heaven is used 55 times in Matthew, 20 times in Mark, and 46 times in Luke.
  • Kingdom can mean "realm" or "rule" - the "rule of Heaven is near."



John's message was a pattern from Isaiah 40:3

  • "That which was spoken" refers to the "who" of Isaiah 40:3
  • Mark gives words from Malachi 3:1 at this point before the Isaiah quote.
  • Luke quotes more of Isaiah 40

"Voice" is the first word in the verse. It is emphatic. Again, the focus is on the message.

"Wilderness" is not in the city where sin and the world system dominates

"Prepare" means to get it ready

"Way" is the Greek word "hodos" and means a road, a highway.

  • "hodos" is used in Acts 9:2 as "the way" to refer to the new Christian faith
  • when a king or emperor would plan to travel their empire then road crews would be sent out to prepare the roads for smooth, quick travel




Camel's hair was coarse and cheap

Leather belt was not a designer belt but dried animal skin

John's dress and simple life resembled Elijah

Locust was eaten by poor.
Wild honey would be what was available and not the refined honey in the city.


John's father, Zechariah, was a priest. John, then, was also a priest.

Many priest had left to live outside the city and appeared to have settle at Qumran (site of the Dead Sea Scrolls)



Baptism means "dip, plunge"; As a passive verb it means "to drown".

  • It was used to refer to sunken ships or dying cloth.
  • Josephus uses it to refer to the overrunning of the city of Jerusalem in 70 by the Roman soldiers. He says the soldiers "flooded" (baptizo) the city.
  • Jews baptized Gentile converts
  • Jews had ritual washings, but did not get baptized for repentance or conversion.



Pharisees were the seperated ones dedicated to the law

Saducees originally were the descendents of Zadok, the high priest of David's day. The term Zadokites is the source of the word Saducee