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Part Two

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

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

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. 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 gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Matthew 3:13-17

The Baptism of Jesus

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

In our journey through the Gospel of Matthew, we begin to uncover layers of understanding that equip us for God’s Great Commission. Our exploration of this book isn’t just academic; it’s deeply personal and transformative, aiming to deepen our relationship with Jesus.

After all, to invite others to follow Jesus, we must first know Him well ourselves. There’s always more to learn about our Savior; the more we discover, the closer we walk with Him and the more effectively we can guide others on this path.

In his book, Matthew invites us to explore the depth and richness of Jesus’ life, teachings, and mission. This Gospel acts as a field guide to making disciples, revealing layers of Jesus’ character and kingship that we might not grasp without a closer look. These revelations enable a more intimate walk with Him and equip us to share His message more truly and effectively.

Matthew introduces us to Jesus not just as a figure from history but as the fulfillment of God’s promises, the King in David’s lineage. This theme of kingship is woven throughout the Gospel, starting with Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1, highlighting His royal lineage, and continuing with the visit of the magi in Matthew 2, acknowledging Him as the “king of the Jews.” Jesus’ birthplace, Bethlehem, the “city of David,” further ties Him to David. Matthew guides us to realize that Jesus is the promised Son of David whose kingdom will be established forever (2 Samuel 7).

But Jesus’ kingship is not of this world. He inaugurates His kingdom through humility and sacrifice, a stark contrast to earthly power. This understanding of Jesus as King reshapes our approach to the Great Commission and discipleship. It’s a call to follow a King whose authority is expressed in loving service and whose kingdom is built on principles of mercy, justice, and humility.

As we reflect on Jesus’ kingship, let’s consider how this impacts our role in the Great Commission. How does this influence our understanding of being His disciples? It challenges us to embody the values of His kingdom in our daily lives, to serve others as He did, and to spread the good news of His love and salvation.

Matthew’s presentation of Jesus not only informs our intellect but invites a transformation of our hearts and actions. It calls us to embrace leadership marked by humility and service, mirroring Jesus’ own approach.

It urges us to grow as disciples of Jesus in a manner deeply rooted in His life and teachings rather than relying solely on pragmatic principles. Jesus’ example teaches us to value and love people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It underscores the importance of extending compassion toward those in need. Instead of seeing ourselves as mere volunteers, we should view our mission as a direct command from our King.

Furthermore, Jesus’ example also prepares us for the inevitable rejection and suffering that comes with living out this mission, equipping us with the resilience needed to continue in obedience.

This Gospel does not merely inform us about Jesus but shapes us to reflect His image in the world, pushing us toward a life of impactful discipleship, unwavering commitment to Him, and making Him known.

It acts as a field guide for making disciples, anchored in a deep, personal knowledge of Jesus as the long-awaited Davidic King.

This Gospel doesn’t just narrate events; it reveals the essence of Jesus’ kingship—His mission, values, and the radical nature of His reign. To follow His command to make disciples, we must first immerse ourselves in knowing Jesus and allow Him to shape our understanding and our lives.

Only by doing so are we equipped to guide others in truly knowing and following Him, ensuring that our approach to discipleship is rooted in the authentic character and teachings of Jesus.

As we move forward together, let’s allow Matthew’s Gospel to lead us to live faithful lives that reflect the example of our King as we endeavor to lead others into the transformative journey of walking with Him.


Though Jesus didn’t need to be baptized to be cleansed of sin, He humbly submitted Himself “to fulfill all righteousness.” Through this act of obedience, He modeled the way forward for those who would come behind. In so doing, He also revealed God’s pleasure in our submission to His will.

Are there places in your life where you struggle to submit to God’s authority or direction?

How would you or the situation be different if you fully surrendered to God in those areas?


As we ponder the absolute authority and loving power of our Lord and King, we invite you to pray for increasing awareness of and receptivity to God’s sovereignty over your life.

Join us as we offer a short and simple prayer of longing:

Holy Spirit, lead me!

Let us learn to lift this cry of invitation moment by moment, breathing it through inhale and exhale. In so doing, we hope to become more and more aware of God’s presence and the Spirit’s prompting throughout our days.

Once you’ve had the chance to practice this age-old approach to continual prayer, we invite you to join as we ask the Lord to reveal where He desires to demonstrate and bless us through His authority over our lives:

Holy Father, would you reveal the hidden places in my heart where I am clinging to my own ways and relying on my own power? Please grow in me a greater desire to submit these things to You.

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