What Jesus Did! 'Fire!' — Matthew 3:11-12

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"I baptize you with water to show that you changed your hearts and lives. But there is a person coming later that is greater than I am. I am not good enough to take off his shoes for him. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He will come ready to clean the grain. He will separate the good grain from the straw. He will put the good part of the grain into his barn. And he will burn the part that is not good. He will burn it with a fire that cannot be stopped."
— Matthew 3:11-12
Illustration of Matthew 3:11-12 — "I baptize you with water to show that you changed your hearts and lives."

Key Thought

So much of the discussion of this passage focuses on whether fire means judgment or purification. All sorts of interpretative clues are examined. Scholarship is divided. So which do you think it is? My answer is "Yes! He both judges and purifies." From this passage and its parallels, I believe John the Baptist probably intended for us to hear both points. We will be judged based on what we decide about Jesus. When we choose to believe Jesus and trust in him, the Holy Spirit will also cleanse us. Jesus calls us to purity, but more than that, he cleanses and purifies us through and through as he pours out his Spirit upon us. (Cf. Titus 3:3-7.)

Today's Prayer

O precious Father, please forgive me of all that I have done wrong, and cleanse me thoroughly by the sanctifying power of your Holy Spirit. In addition, dear Father, I trust in the Spirit's power to help me triumph over the temptation to sin. Thank you for not only cleansing me, but also sustaining me by the power of your Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

At that time John the Baptizer came and began telling people a message {from God}. This was in the desert area of Judea. John said, "Change your hearts and lives, because the kingdom of heaven is coming soon." John the Baptizer is the one that Isaiah the prophet was talking about. Isaiah said: "There is a person shouting in the desert: 'Prepare the way for the Lord. Make his paths straight.'" John's clothes were made from camel's hair. John had a leather belt around his waist. For food, John ate locusts and wild honey. People went to hear John. The people came from Jerusalem and all Judea and all the area around the Jordan River. People told the sins they had done, and John baptized them in the Jordan River. Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to the place where John was baptizing people. When John saw them he said to them: "You are all snakes! Who warned you to run away from God's anger that is coming? You must do the things that show that you have really changed your hearts and lives. And don't think that you can boast and say to yourselves, 'Abraham is our father.' I tell you that God could make children for Abraham from these rocks here. The ax is now ready to cut down the trees. Every tree that does not make good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water to show that you changed your hearts and lives. But there is a person coming later that is greater than I am. I am not good enough to take off his shoes for him. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He will come ready to clean the grain. He will separate the good grain from the straw. He will put the good part of the grain into his barn. And he will burn the part that is not good. He will burn it with a fire that cannot be stopped." At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River. Jesus came to John and wanted John to baptize him. But John tried to say that he was not good enough to baptize Jesus. John said, "Why do you come to me to be baptized? Ishould be baptized by you!" Jesus answered, "Let it be this way for now. We should do all things that are right." So John agreed to baptize Jesus. Jesus was baptized and he came up out of the water. The sky opened, and he saw God's Spirit coming down on him like a dove. And a voice spoke from heaven. The voice said, "This (Jesus) is my Son and I love him. I am very pleased with him."

Matthew 3:1-17

Related Scripture Readings

But then the kindness and love of God our Savior was made known. He saved us because of his mercy (love), not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. God poured out (gave) to us that Holy Spirit fully through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Titus 3:4-6

Surely you know that the people that do wrong will not get God's kingdom. Don't be fooled. These people will not get God's kingdom: people that sin sexually, people that worship idols, people that do the sin of adultery, men that let other men use them for sex or that have sex with other men, people that steal, people that are greedy, people that get drunk, people that say bad things to other people, and people that cheat. In the past, some of you were like that. But you were washed clean, you were made holy, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Some of us are Jews and some of us are Greeks (non-Jews); some of us are slaves and some of us are free. But we were all baptized into one body through one Spirit. And we were all given the one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.