From: Su Min
Subject: This Is My Son
I kneel before the Father from whom the whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3: 14-19).
(A better greeting I could not pen myself, and I beseech those of you who have access to The Amplified Bible to read this passage with all the richness and fullness of the original Greek text embodied.)
Today we look at Matt 3:11-17.
John declares that his baptism was only with water, but there was to come the next Baptiser was more powerful, and so great that John was not worthy to do the menial task of carrying his sandals. This humility of John is something that all of us could learn. John recognises the greatness of Jesus. John recognises that the baptism that Jesus offers is more powerful than John's, for John baptised with water, but Jesus baptises with the holy spirit and with fire...
For most young Christians, the Holy Spirit is the most difficult aspect of our Triune God to understand. The Hebrew word ruah appears 378 times in the OT and the Greek equivalent pneuma 379 times in the NT. It is this dimension of God that Jesus promises us in John 14:15-17 as he says "If you love me you will obey what I command. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him for he lives with you and will be in you."
Certainly the Holy Spirit does dwell in us believers. Paul says "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you (1 Cor 3:16). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is possible for us if we reconcile ourselves with God. If we repent, turn from our wicked ways and love Jesus enough to obey his commandments, Jesus will ask God to send us the Holy Spirit who will come in to dwell within each one of us eternally. Thus we can see why John said that Jesus came to baptise with the Holy Spirit.
But John also said that Jesus comes with fire and a winnowing fork. The agricultural example was very apt for the congregation of the early believers, who all were familiar with the process of grain collection. The ground was tilled and the grain sowed. The crops were watered and when ripe the grain was harvested. The ears of wheat corn were threshed on the threshing floor, to loosen the outer chaff from the inner grain. The whole mixture was tossed in the air to let the wind blow the chaff away, and the grain fall back down again. This process was called winnowing.
Jesus come with judgement. The God of love must still be the God of wrath, for he is perfect, and can not accept imperfection. His fire will burn away our imperfections. With his winnowing fork he will toss up the grain from the threshing floor, and the wheat will fall back to the floor and be gathered into his barn. And the chaff? It will be discarded, tossed into the flames to be burned with unquenchable fire".
How will you fare when the winnowing fork tosses you up? Are you solid enough to fall back safely into the arms of Jesus, to be gathered safely into his barn? Or are you be made of inconsequential stuff, all light rubbish, no kernel, no valuable centre, just chaff to be blown about with the slightest wind, with the inescapable fate of being tossed into the unquenchable fire?
Just one book ago, in Malachi, last book of the old testament, written about 400m BC it is written: "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evil doer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 4:1).
So chaff beware. You fate has been declared.
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall (Malachi 4:2).
One book before Malachi, the prophet Zechariah proclaims the word of God:
(Zech 13:8-9)And the fate is clearly declared: Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matt 25:46).
"In the whole land" declares the Lord,
"two thirds will be struck down and perish;
yet one third will be left in it.
This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver and test them like gold
They will call on my name;
I will say 'They are my people
and they will say 'the Lord is our God'"
- The word of God tells us that God will consign the arrogant and evil doer to the fire (Malachi 4:1).
- The word of God tells us that God will submit us to the refining fire to separate the gold from the dross (Zech 13:8-9).
- The word of God tells us that the axe is already at the roots of the trees that do not produce good fruit (Matt 3:10).
- The word of God tells us that Jesus comes with a winnowing fork in his hand, to separate the wheat from the chaff (Matt 3:12).
- The word of God tells us that Jesus comes to separate the sheep from the goats (Matt 25:32-33).
Surely, the lone voice of John the Baptist in the wilderness speaks to us as urgently saying "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near".
In Matt 3:11 Matthew records John's anticipation of the arrival of Jesus.
In Matt 3:13 Matthew records that "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John."
John protests, feeling rather the need to be baptised by Jesus. Jesus insisted as this baptism was part of God's plan to fulfil all righteousness (Matt 3:15).
From Matt 3:16 we gather that Jesus was baptised, as was the common practice, by immersion. The spirit of God was seen descending like a dove upon Jesus, and a voice was heard saying, "This is my son whom I love, with him I am well pleased." From the text it appears at that at least John the Baptist saw the spirit of God descending and heard God speaking.
"This is my son whom I love, with him I am well pleased. (Matt 3:17)" We are to read of this same declaration again at the transfiguration (Matt 17:5) so it may be worthwhile to make a small pencil note of this in your notes or in your bible. The second time (at the transfiguration) God adds an instruction to this declaration: God says "listen to him (Matt 17:5)"
This has been our introduction to Jesus as brought by the gospel of Matthew:
A genealogical history way back to Adam (Matt 1: 1-17)Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph 3: 20-21
The virgin birth to Mary (Matt 1:24)
The flight to Egypt (Matt 2:14)
The return to Nazareth in Galilee (Matt 3:23)
To the banks of River Jordan for baptism (Matt 3:13)
Recognition and declaration by God that indeed "This is my son whom I love, with him I am well pleased. (Matt 3:17)"
Let us close in prayer.
Thank you for your lesson today.
Thank you for teaching us about the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.
Thank you for showing us clearly the fate of those who refuse to repent.
Thank you for the repeated call to repentance.
Thank you for accepting us as we repent.
In Jesus' Name
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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