Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
What Does this Passage Say?
- John the Baptist is some sort of relation to Jesus. Some speculate cousin but we have no idea. We know that John’s life was announced by Gabriel to his father who was a priest while he was serving at the temple (Luke 1). It is to John’s parents house that Mary, Jesus mother, runs to when she finds out she is pregnant (Luke 1). It is John who leaps in his mother, Elizabeth’s, womb when he hears the voice of Mary arriving at the house.
- John is given the mission of preparing the way for Jesus. He did this by teaching a message of repentance and by baptizing with a baptism indicating that repentance. His mission was prophesied about by Isaiah as part of the coming of Jesus. John preached and baptized in the Jordan Valley in the Jordan River.
- John’s appearance was strange. He wore camel hair clothes, ate locust and wild honey, and probably had long hair. There is a lot of speculation in the scholarly community that he identified with a group called the Essenes. The Essenes were another religious group within Judaism. They were an isolationist group living in the southern cave regions of the Jewish territory. They were known for their Nazirite vowel way of life. They also were the scribes of the Jewish community. They spent a large portion of their time copying the text of the Old Testament. It is the Essene community we credit with creating and preserving the historical find of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- John was not reserved with his words. In fact he confronted the ruling religious leaders of the day: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These two groups controlled the religious teaching in the Jewish community. They were seen as the spiritual leaders often held higher than the priest. Many in this group have become power hungry and have made observance to the Mosaic Law incredibly difficult to follow. It is with this understanding we can connect to the harsh words that John has for this group.
- Jesus himself shows up to be baptized by John. To be honest this is still something I am trying to understand myself. I take it for faith that Jesus had to be baptized by John. I know this; it is the public beginning of Jesus ministry and a time that God verbally and visually presents himself by sending a dove and speaking words of praise.
What is this passage teaching?
- In verse eight John the Baptist looks at the Pharisees and Sadducees and says … “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” (Matthew 1:8 NLT) What a powerful reminder for us. We are saved by the blood of Jesus. We are saved by His doing not ours. We are saved once, not over and over again. God has forgotten our sin and invited us to spend eternity with Him. But that does not mean we can continue sinning. Sure, we are going to sin. Yes we are going to stumble. And yes we are still covered by God’s grace. But our lives should reflect the truth that we have repented. Our lives should reflect the truth that we have turned to God. Our lives should reflect the truth that we are children of God.
How can I apply this passage to my life?
- Are you going to navigate life without sin? Absolutely not! There we are times when weakness takes over. There will be times when struggles present themselves. Fortunately in those moments we are still saved by grace. What we must work to avoid is the temptation to openly sin. While God does not weigh sin, and neither should we, we also should never take for granted God’s grace. When we openly sin we are essentially spitting in the face of God’s grace. We are telling God that his grace and mercy and gift of eternal life is of little value to us. Work to rid your life of sin. Work to remove even the times you succumbed to weakness.
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