Matthew 3

Talks for Growing Christians

The Ministry of John the Baptist, and our Lord’s Baptism

Matthew 3

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Lesson Number 5

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The baptism of John was a baptism unto repentance
  2. The baptism of Jesus would be with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Practical Application

  1. You too can have a ministry in a wilderness.


  1. What happened between the events of Matthew chapter 2 and Matthew chapter 3?
  2. When did God say of Jesus “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” ?
  3. Did John the Baptist live alone as a hermit in the wilderness?
  4. Was the baptism of John the same as Christian baptism?
  5. Why did the Lord Jesus, who had never sinned, take part in John’s baptism of repentance?


  1. There is a gap of 27 to 29 years between these chapters. The only record we have of these years is when Jesus astonished the teachers at the temple when He was 12 years old. Chapter 3 picks up with the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry.
  2. God said this before Jesus began His public ministry. God saw nothing but perfection in Jesus’ childhood and young adulthood.
  3. No, there were a number of wilderness communities of Orthodox Jews, known as the Essenes. John was probably associated with one of these communities.
  4. No, Christian baptism was not instituted until after our Lord’s death and resurrection. John’s baptism called for the Jews to repent and prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
  5. Jesus says in Matthew 3:15 that it was right for Him to be baptized. He was setting the example and identifying with those who separated themselves from unbelieving Judaism and were preparing themselves for the kingdom of God.


  1. John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Messiah. He came prophesying that the kingdom of God, predicted in the Old Testament, was at hand. Discuss how the earthly kingdom was postponed, because the King was rejected. Discuss the kingdom of heaven that is proceeding on this earth, while the King is in heaven. The people rejected the offer of the Messianic kingdom, because they would not repent, but one day the Jewish people will repent and Christ will come again to establish His earthly kingdom.
  2. The baptism of Jesus would be with the Holy Spirit and fire. Because the King was rejected and His earthly kingdom postponed until His second coming, the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire will occur in two stages separated by a length of time. The baptism with the Holy Spirit was at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Church with power and blessing. The baptism with fire will be when the Lord returns in judgment. Do you live your life knowing that you will be judged when the Lord returns?


  1. It does not seem possible that thousands of people would go into the Judean wilderness to be ministered to by John the Baptist. Yet God blessed John the Baptist’s ministry, because he was faithful in what God called him to do. Do not be discouraged; you too can have a ministry in a wilderness.

Key Verses

  • “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:2
  • “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11
  • “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

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