• Leslie Chalupny

Week 3: Day 2 ( January 14, 2019)

1. Read below: John the Baptist

John’s father, Zechariah, was told by God that he was going to have a son with his wife, Elizabeth, and it would only be a matter of time before John was born. But Zechariah and Elizabeth were too old to have a baby, so he didn’t believe it. What Zechariah didn’t know was that God has a special plan with John. He wasn’t just any ordinary baby. 

From the beginning, God had a specific purpose for John the Baptist’s life – “He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 

John’s preaching was not only the warning of impending judgment, it was a call to action. John called upon men to repent and to be baptized. What does John mean by the term “repent”? It means to have a change of mind, to turn around. By repentance John means much more than just a change of one’s thinking. It includes this, but it also involves more. I believe that there is an element of sorrow or remorse. Repentance is also a change of heart and mind that results in a change of course, a change in lifestyle. Matthew does not have our Lord go into detail as to how one’s life should change as a result of true repentance. In Matthew, Jesus merely lays down the general requirement: “Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance” (3:8).

The outward symbol of repentance was baptism. The only baptism the Jews of that day knew about was proselyte baptism. In such baptisms, the believer would baptize himself and then (if it was a male) he would be circumcised. The self-baptized and circumcised Gentile thus embraced Judaism and placed himself under the Old Testament Law. You can imagine the humility that baptism required of a Jew. The inference was clear: if the Jew had to repent in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming, he must thereby confess the inadequacy of Judaism to save him from his sins. And by embracing baptism he likewise placed himself on the same (lower) level as a Gentile. Both Jews and Gentiles alike were required to prepare for Messiah’s appearance in the same manner: (1) repent of the false system in which they had formerly trusted; (2) confess their sins; and, (3) be baptized, like the Gentiles who became Jewish proselytes. No wonder the Pharisees did not want to be baptized!

2. Comment: What do you think of John's call to repentance? Does this still pertain to our life today? Other comments/questions?

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