The Anticipation and Surprise of John the Baptist
In our text we hear the voice of Jesus himself for the first time in Mt. After a 30-yr gap in our knowledge, Jesus comes to John to be baptized and amazing things begin to happen.
John was a prophet like Elijah in wilderness pronouncing God’s coming judgment – especially on Pharisees (Law) and Sadducees (Temple): “brood of vipers” (3:7). He calls all to repent, be baptized to prepare “the way of the Lord” for the in-breaking Kingdom of Heaven.
John proclaims the one who will follow him: his power, worthiness. Beyond plunging in water, he will plunge you in Spirit and Fire. John’s words echo words of scripture in Mal., Isa., etc. The coming one will embody God’s judgment, sifting, gathering wheat, burning chaff. He’s ready.
Then Jesus comes. It doesn’t seem right. He should take over, not be baptized. He should show power, fire, judgment. John expects the Messiah that so many envisioned. Jesus surprises! Not by being more glorious than we expected, but by being one of the crowd of people.