Matthew – Day 8 – Prepare the Way
lease begin by reading the Shema out loud and continue trying to memorize it.
“Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God. The LORD alone. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Amen.”
In Matthew chapter 3, we learn about a person named John. To get some background on this person named John we have to go to the gospel of Luke. The first chapter of Luke tells us about John’s parents. His father was a priest named Zechariah, and his mother was named Elizabeth. They were both upright in the eyes of the LORD, but they remained childless because Elizabeth was not able to have children. John’s mother, Elizabeth, was a relative of Jesus’ mother, Mary. Jesus and John were months apart in age.
Read Luke 1:8-17 (out loud).
We find that God had a plan for John that would fulfill another prophecy.
Luke 3:1 tells us that the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius Caesar’s reign did not begin until A.D. 14 (after Christ was born). So we can guess that John is close to the age of 30.
The Jewish people had been told to expect someone to come before the Messiah who would prepare the way for Him. They were also told that he would come from the desert.
Read Isaiah 40:3-5 and Matthew 3:1-4 (out loud).
We see that the Isaiah 40 passage is a prophecy about John, and the Matthew passage confirms that John fulfilled that prophecy. (Add this to your prophecy page.)
Mark 1:4 tells us that John was “baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” The Jewish Bible referred to a private personal purification of cleansing and washing with water required by the Law before certain rituals. Like the prophets, John confronted the Jewish people with their need to return back to God.
John also introduced baptism as a public act that was a symbol of repentance and recommitment to God’s laws in expectation of the Messiah coming. (This type of baptism was also performed by a group of people called the Essenes who had separated themselves from the main Jewish lifestyle and were dedicated to restoring the Law to what God originally intended in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.)
Read Matthew 3:5-12 (out loud).
John spoke pretty sternly to the Jewish people. He called the Pharisees and the Sadducees “brood of vipers” which basically called them the offspring of Satan (snake). He let them know that just because they were “from the line of Abraham” they would not avoid judgment. He very clearly told them that they needed to produce fruit. He says this twice (in verses 8 and 10). Producing fruit means living differently according to God’s plan. This fruit is listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Read this list.
This is a great place for us to stop and examine our own lives. Are you producing fruit in your life? Does Galatians 5 describe you? Are you in danger of being “cut down and thrown into the fire?” Do you need to repent? As we examine our own lives, and realize that we fall short… there is an answer. There is a way. We will discover this as we go through the gospel of Matthew. This is the good news of Jesus.
Revell Bible Dictionary