The Ministry of The Messiah
Text: Matthew 3:1-17
How many really understood what John meant when he preached about the Messiah and the ministry that He would be engaged in?
“…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.”
STANDING IN AWE OF THE MESSIAH
John stood in awe of the Messiah. He had the greatest sense of deference where the Messiah was concerned. Imagine the mighty preacher John, whose word was so well regarded by multitudes saying that he was not even fit to be the lowliest of servants to the Majestic Messiah. The lowest rung of slaves must be that of the one whose menial duty was to strap on the sandals of his master when he goes out. He also was responsible for taking off the sandals of the master when he returned home from work. This lowly servant was to fetch and carry the sandals of the master. Few jobs were lower than this one. Yet, John insisted that the Messiah was so great that he felt unworthy to fulfill this task!
THE BAPTISING MINISTRY OF THE MESSIAH
The multitudes had become familiar with the ministry of baptism that John practiced. The symbolic value of this ministry was awesome indeed! Yet, what was that ministry when compared to the baptism that the Messiah would administer?
1. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”
This thought in itself must have been mind-boggling! How the masses must have been dumbfounded with awe at the thought that the Messiah would baptize people with the Holy Spirit! Imagine the thought!
a) To be baptized with the Holy Spirit was to experience the power of God Himself.
Jewish children were brought up with wonderful stories of how great servants of God were filled with divine power! The Spirit of God did not come on just anyone. He came upon a select few! Those who were empowered were mightily used by God! How wonderful it must be to be given this special blessing of power!
b) To be baptized with the Holy Spirit was surely to experience a permanent change of life!
All who were empowered lived differently! Their lives became significantly different! What a thrill it would be to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and to have a total transformation of life subsequently! What a wonderful prospect John painted of the Messiah’s ministry! There was everything to look forward to when the Messiah comes – and soon! With great joy and enthusiasm John proclaimed the coming of Jesus the Christ!
2. “And Fire”
The symbol of fire was not unknown in the Scriptures. Let us take time to consider the following texts.
” ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the Lord.
‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in
This word was preached by Jeremiah to the erring false prophets who claimed that they were servants of God! The word that Jeremiah proclaimed against them would be like fire that would consume these false prophets who caused Israel to err exceedingly!
There is an even more relevant text that spoke directly of the Messiah. This word is found in the book of Malachi.
‘”Behold, I send My messenger,
And He will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His Temple,
Even the Messenger of the Covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming.’
Says the Lord of hosts.
But who can endure the day of His
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the Lord
An offering in righteousness.”
As far as John was concerned, the ministry of the Messiah may indeed be compared with fire! His word would be as powerful as fire. The word that He preached would burn up false teachings!
When the Messiah came, He would indeed purge Israel as gold and silver are purged through the refiner’s fire! What an awesome ministry the Messiah would have when He comes – and soon!
NOT A WORD ABOUT HIMSELF
To John’s credit, he did not preach anything about himself at all! His whole focus was to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, and to that extent he was most faithful! Day after day, John preached and prepared the multitudes for the coming of the Messiah. With eager anticipation, the multitudes waited with bated breath for the appearance of the Christ.