1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS: ‘PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD; MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.
5 EVERY VALLEY SHALL BE FILLED AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED PLACES SHALL BE MADE STRAIGHT AND THE ROUGH WAYS SMOOTH;
6 AND ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.’ “
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”
12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”
14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,
16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.
19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,
20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.
21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.
22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli,
24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph,
25 the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,
26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah,
27 the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er,
29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,
30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim,
31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,
34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,
36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan,
38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
The word of the Lord from John was for a change of actions that would absolve them of sins. For each person there was apparently a personal adjustment that would fulfill this requirement, but there was a need for action, not just a verbal commitment. Matthew’s description of his message in 3:8 called it having “fruits worthy of repentance”. He also included a warning of what would happen without these adjustments – “cut down and thrown into the fire”. Though the remission of our sins has been covered by Jesus’ blood, there is yet a need for actions that verify our cleansing by the blood. For each there is an appropriate action that will be fruit worthy of the blood’s effect.
As we call you Our Father, you call us your sons and daughters. Therefore, baptize those of us with the Holy Spirit and fire. Let your mighty power come upon us and in us and affect our hearts so that we can be effective in whatever ministry you have called for each and everyone of us.