Mitch, Curtis & Edward Sri. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
“John the Baptist and Jesus (Matthew 3:1-17)”, pp. 60-72
(Note, at this point rather than having location numbers my notes have page numbers.)
Mitch observes that John was baptizing people in a remote and rugged area. The Jordan River was very important to Jesus (Mitch 2010, 61). This was where God brought his people into the land of promise. John’s message was centered on repentance, a turning around (Mitch 2010, 62). This was Israel’s opportunity to prepare for the coming kingdom of heaven. “John is announcing that God’s promised reign is now dawning on Israel and the world” (Mitch 2010, 62). If Matthew is associating John with the messenger in Isaiah 40, he is also connecting Jesus with God’s coming to Israel (Mitch 210, 62).
Mitch distinguishes between John’s baptism and other Jewish worship, which related to ceremonial impurity. “John’s baptism, however, was a single, decisive act of repentance, and it concerned one’s sins, not ritual impurities” (Mitc 2010, 64). There were some such washings in the Qumran community, but Mitch sees John’s as a one-time event, not a repeated practice. There was also a ritual washing of a convert to Judaism (Mitch 2010, 64). In this passage Matthew introduces the Jewish leaders, Pharisees and Sadducees. They were present not to repent to but investigate (Mitch 2010, 65). John points out that repentance, not investigation, is what God requires (Mitch 2010, 66).
John’s introduction of Jesus is as the one who is immeasurably greater than he, the possessor of the Holy Spirit (Mitch 2010, 67). Commenting on this work of the coming one, Mitch describes baptism. “Through baptism, God freely forgives all our sins and fills us with his Holy Spirit, making us his children - a status we could not achieve through our own efforts. Christian baptism also gives us the power to live in a way that we could not do on our own” (Mitch 2010, 68).
In the interchange of Jesus and John prior to Jesus’ baptism, John asserts his inferiority. Mitch sees the fulfilling of all righteousness as a statement that Jesus’ baptism is his anointing for ministry (Mitch 2010, 69), as the Spirit comes upon him.