John Baptizes with Water and Jesus Baptizes with the Holy Spirit
The third chapter in the book of Matthew focuses on John the Baptist and makes the transition to Jesus, the star of the rest of the book. This chapter also contains some teaching from John. He quotes Isaiah and calls for the Jewish people to repent.
Then he tells us some information about himself in contrast to Jesus. He says Jesus is more powerful than he, and that he’s not even worthy to carry Jesus’s shoes (Matthew 3:11). Later on Matthew quotes Jesus as he talks about John.
Jesus says no man has ever lived who is greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). When we combine these two verses, we see John the Baptist as the most important man ever, yet he is nothing compared to Jesus.
Reading that John isn’t worthy to carry Jesus’s shoes has always grabbed my attention. However, this causes me to miss something more significant in this verse.
John says he is baptizing people with water to signify the repentance, that is, their sorrow for the wrongs they have done and their commitment to turn things around and make a fresh start. Many churches treat baptism this way. This isn’t bad, but they could do better.
This is because John talks about a second type of baptism, it comes from Jesus. John says Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. We later see the Holy Spirit connected with fire, tongues of fire, in Acts 2:3–4, the baptism from Jesus.
Jesus’s baptism is a Holy Spirit baptism. Too many churches miss this in their sacrament of baptism. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s easier and less confronting to focus on the baptism of John the Baptist instead of the more confusing, risky, and powerful Holy Spirit baptism from Jesus.
It’s time we give more attention to Jesus’s Holy Spirit baptism and consider what it means to the way we understand our faith and apply it to our lives.
When we baptize people, we must baptize them with Holy Spirit fire.
[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Matthew 1-4, and today’s post is on Matthew 3:11.]
Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
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