I followed a familiar pattern as I was looking for the next blog post study for myself; look at resources, look at what I’ve already written in the past and repeatedly pray “show me.” I get a lot of extra reading done in this process and at some point something clicks and I realize I’m ready to begin the next chapter. I’ve spent much time reading and pondering the first two chapters of each New Testament book in the past [The Firsts and Second Chance] so The Third Chapter seems like both an answer to my prayer and a logical choice.
Matthew 3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For 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.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
The wilderness is not the setting you’d expect the advancement of a Kingdom to happen. A baptist living a very humble life in the middle of nowhere is not who you’d expect to be part of the fulfillment of an ancient promise. The confession of sin and sacrifice was familiar but there are some unusual things that make this baptism of repentance the direct path to God.
Only that path can establish the multitude of nations that God promised Abraham. Only that direct path can open the heavens “to fulfill all righteousness.” Only that path can provide another baptism mightier than water, and more powerful than devout sacrifices alone can. Only Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, can build a Kingdom of promised purity and true repentance within the hearts of the children of God. Only Jesus!
Matthew 3:16 And 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.”
NLT Hebrews 1:1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days…he has spoken to us through his Son.” This is it folks, the absolute truth that has lasted through such a long history that it’s beyond our calculation of time. Christ is “the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised.” [Hebrews 9:15]
God has promised you a changed life for today and an inheritance for all eternity. We have this inheritance because “in these final days, he [God] has spoken to us through his Son” not because of all the do’s, dont’s, could’s and should’s we cling to. “When he [Christ] “cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven” to celebrate your inheritance with you…got it?
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 21… “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Isn’t it odd for Jesus to ask “Why do you call me good?” The reality is even the perfect son of God recognized how flawed the human perception of goodness is…even when it comes to approaching God. We can’t help but evaluate God’s promised goodness by His performance. That’s tricky to navigate in the history of the Bible and in our own lives. Jesus asked the rich young man to do more than make the choice between possessions and poverty. The “one thing” he lacked was the ability to see his treasure was the reality of a future with God beyond his own goodness.