Matthew Chapter 3
John stood outside the religious norm. He appears as a wild-man, a prophet, a revivalist even. His call to repent was for a transformed life, turned and changed. It is a lifestyle calling, not situational forgiveness. All the country was drawn to him, where they confessed sin and were baptized. His name was known. And he stood against the religion of the day. Fruit of repentance is more important than position or religion of birth. Purification is on its way and only the good fruit will survive, for the Holy Spirit and fire will not tolerate chaff regardless of its birthright.
Then Jesus comes, an unknown figure, but recognized by the known figure of John. John’s baptism is symbolic leading to a new life. Jesus is baptism of spirit, which is life. And the life in the spirit is fire that purifies or burns up depending upon what is aflame.
Righteousness must be fulfilled. There is a proper order to things. First the forerunner comes, then the one announced appears. This is ordained by God and the baptism is blessed by word and spirit. Fulfillment of righteousness can be a good and beautiful thing, but it can also lead to very agonizing experiences. The path of righteousness that the Messiah will take passes through both peace and pain, as we see in the next section. It is not all rose gardens, flowing water and blessings. There is also hunger, wilderness and temptations.