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 NLT
Illustration of Matthew 3:11-12 NLT — "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.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Titus 3:4-6
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
  • 1 Corinthians 12:13


About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.