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3R: Matthew – Chapter 3

Matthew 2 / Matthew 3 / Matthew 4

I still have a cold tonight so forgive any light content whilst I’m being kept running by Echinaciea tea, courtesy of ‘the wife’, Simone.

The Story so Far …

Matthew 1

  • The genealogy
    • 14 generations from Abraham to David
    • 14 generations from David to the deportation at Babylon
    • 14 generations from the deportation to Babylon and the Messiah
  • The birth of Jesus
    • Mary is pregnant by the ‘Holy Spirit’
    • Joseph plans to separate quietly (being ‘a righteous man’) but an angel tells me it’s alright not too
    • … Mary is to have a baby and they are to name him Jesus
      • ‘for he will save people from their sins’ (v21)
      • … and fulfill a prophecy (v23)
        • Which means: ‘God is with us’
    • Joseph does what the angel commands
      • including having no sexual relations with Mary until after Jesus’ birth.

Matthew 2

  • The visit of the wise men (1-12)
    • (1) King Herod and the wise men
    • (2) ‘Where is the child who has been born King of the Jews’ …
    • (3-6) King Herod is frightened
      • and asks his team where is the king to be born
    • (7-8) Herod secretly asks the wise men for the exact details
      • So (allegedly) he too may honour him …
    • (9-11) The wise men complete their journey
      • Giving gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh
    • (12) They are warned in a dream not to return (and don’t!)
  • The escape to Egypt (13-15)
    • (13) Joseph is also warned by an ‘angel of the Lord’ not to return as well
    • (14-15) They first go to Egypt
      • Which also fulfills a prophecy about the future king)
  • The massacre of the infants (16-18)
    • (16) This sends Herod into a murderous rage
    • (17-18) … and another prophecy is fulfilled
  • The return from Egypt (19-23)
    • (19-21) Leaning that Herod, Joseph and his family plan to return
    • (22) But hearing that Archelaus is now ruling in Herod’s place …
      • and ‘warned in a dream’ he instead goes to (the district of) Galilee
    • (23) Nazareth becomes his home town
      • … and therefore another prophecy is fulfilled

Matthew 3

The Proclamation of John the Baptist

John the Baptist (late 1st century BC – AD 28–36)[dubious – discuss] was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early 1st century AD. Other titles for John include John the Forerunner in Eastern Christianity, John the Immerser in some Baptist traditions, and the prophet John (Yaḥyā) in Islam. He is sometimes alternatively called John the Baptizer.

John the Baptist is mentioned by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus and revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Baháʼí Faith, and Mandaeism. He is called a prophet by all of these faiths, and is honoured as a saint in many Christian traditions. According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself, and the Gospels portray John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus’ coming and prepares the people for Jesus’ ministry. Jesus himself identifies John as “Elijah who is to come”, which is a direct reference to the prophecy of Malachi 4:5–6, that has been confirmed by the angel who announced John’s birth to his father Zecharia. According to the New Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth were relatives.

Some scholars maintain that John belonged to the Essenes, a semi-ascetic Judaic sect who expected a messiah and who practiced ritual baptism[dubious – discuss]. John used baptism as the central symbol or sacrament of his pre-messianic movement. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus, and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John. Whether John himself recognized Jesus as the messiah is not clear from the New Testament.

According to the New Testament John was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded by Herod Antipas sometime between AD 28 and [dubious – discuss] after John rebuked him for divorcing his wife, Phasaelis, and then unlawfully wedding Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I.

Wikipedia: John the Baptist

‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

Matthew 3:2b; NRSVA

Repent = Turn around (metanoeó: to change one’s mind or purpose)

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.”’

Matthew 3:3b; NRSVA

A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Isaiah 40:3; NRSVA

Many people come and confess their sins, but some seem to be doing it for the wrong reasons too:

‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

John the Baptist – Matthew 3:7b-10

But John also gives a heads up that he might not be the ‘main event’ but someone greater is coming than he:

‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

John the Baptist – Matthew 3:11-12; NRSVA

The Baptism of Jesus

  • … Then Jesus arrives (13)
  • But John thinks he needs to be baptised by Jesus instead (14)
  • Jesus: ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’

Matthew 3:16; NRSVA

Matthew 4

Coming tomorrow, more of Chapter 4 – give it a read now and see what you think.

Matthew 2 / Matthew 3 / Matthew 4