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135 - Camel’s Hair is Back in Fashion

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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February 25, 2023 1:00 pm

135 - Camel’s Hair is Back in Fashion

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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February 25, 2023 1:00 pm

Episode 135 - Camel’s Hair is Back in Fashion (25 Feb 2023) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. Okay, so who do you think of when I say, camel's hair, eating locusts, and wild... Oh, wild man. Oh, wild man. Yeah, but think Old Testament. Oh, the prophet Elijah. Yes, prophet Elijah. And in the New Testament... John the Baptist.

Exactly, John the Baptist, the new second Elijah. Today on More Than Ink. Well, good morning. I'm Dorothy. And I'm Jim.

And we are so glad you joined us here today. Yeah, we are. This is More Than Ink, and we're talking about, we're in the Gospel of Matthew, and we are today going to be in chapter three talking about John, that figure of the baptizer, the one who came as the forerunner to identify God sent one, Messiah Jesus. So on the timeline, since the last time we read this... Yeah, we've jumped forward a little bit.

We've moved forward three decades from the last time we were there. So Jesus is all grown, and presumptively he's taken care of all of his home duties, presumptively again at the death of his father, and he's being the eldest. And we're past that, and now he's on the verge of going into full-time public ministry. And John the... Jesus is. Jesus is. Yeah, I think you said John the Baptist was. Sorry, sorry. Yeah, I'm glad you're here.

I just misspeak these things. You know, Jesus is, Jesus is. But John the Baptist figures prominently now in the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and he's necessary in a way that you really wouldn't presume, but he is necessary. And that's what Matthew wants to highlight here as we look into the start of the ministry of Jesus. Okay, because remember we said Matthew is writing his gospel with a Jewish readership in mind, and Jews knew that the forerunner, the one who was gonna come before Messiah, had been prophesied, and so Matthew is pointing out that one was this man John.

The fulfillment of that. But in reality, if you think about it, the Messiah's coming, he's both God and man at the same time. It would seem like, why does he need someone to go before him? I mean, doesn't he have enough to do it by himself? It kind of reminds me of those old TV show tapings, and if you go to a TV show taping, they have someone come out and warm up the audience before the big stars do the show and stuff like that.

Well, that's sort of what it is. It's somebody coming ahead of time saying, now get ready, because here comes the king. Yeah, but what he does is he provides a crucial context for the ministry of Jesus. You'll see it as we do this, so see if you can catch what that necessary context is for the coming of Jesus publicly. So here we are, chapter three, we're reading out of the ESV version, if you want to follow with us, and we're starting on verse one. Do you want me to read?

Yeah, go ahead. Okay, here we go. Chapter three, verse one. Well, in those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, when he said, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Okay, stop there for a minute.

Oh, stop it. Because already, we have another prophetic quotation. More prophecies. Right, back to Isaiah. There's going to be this voice going ahead of Messiah saying, get ready, because he's coming, make the path straight, right?

Get rid of the obstacles, open the way, get your heart ready. Because his message is one to call the people to repentance. Well, let's talk for a minute about what is repentance. Yeah, because I might add, it's said in a lot of places that the word repent is the first word of the gospel, almost everywhere you look. The first thing that's mentioned when you mention the gospel, the good news is repent. Repent.

Comes from John the Baptist, comes from Jesus, repent. So what is repentance? What does it mean to repent? It means to turn back or to turn and go another way, to change your mind, because you've changed your heart.

Yes. In a way, in our vernacular, we say to someone, hey, buddy, you better think again about this, because it has a lot to do with changing your mind, and as a result, changing your actions. So there's something that they're missing in terms of their need, and they need to rethink that. And that rethinking is a repentance, a turning around from sin. A changing of your attitude towards God, because that change of heart has to do with God, with our attitude towards him and our recognition of his rightful place in our lives. So John's calling the people, saying, hey, the kingdom is about to emerge.

You need to get ready. So change your heart, your attitude towards God, and be ready to receive the king. Yeah, and while we don't talk about it much, the coming of the gospel, which is good news, calls right after the coming of the bad news, which is sin's a problem. And in the first century Jews, if you'd asked them, what's the biggest problem in your life, they wouldn't say sin. No, they'd say Rome.

They'd say Rome. Exactly. So the paradigm that John the Baptist needed to plow a new understanding of was the idea that you have a fundamental need because of your sinfulness. And he says that, he mentions it more starkly in verse seven. He'll say, the wrath to come. This is why it should be very sobering when someone says that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It means that judgment is at hand. The wrath of God is at hand.

You need to do something now while you have the chance. Because the king is here. Because the king is here.

And he's going to lay it out for you. And this is very contemporary. This is very relevant because this message is called repentance. John is saying, your problem is not a political one. Your problem is a spiritual one.

Right, right. So when he talks about repentance, it's about changing your mind and your action in regards to sin. This repentance is not some gushy emotional remorse over doing bad things.

It's not that at all. It's about something that's fundamentally broken about you. And it's about you and God. Repentance is toward God. And since that king who judges is coming, you need to do something.

So this is what he's saying. Prepare the way of the Lord. And that's how he's preparing the way of the Lord. Because if Jesus just showed up on the scene and said, I'm your savior, they would say, from what? From what? Rome?

Yeah. And he'd say, no, from your own sins. And in fact, that's exactly how Jesus is announced.

We saw this in chapter one. He's going to come and save his people from their sins. That's what John the Baptist had to make known. So he uses this image out of ancient times where kings, when they would go on long road trips, they would send people ahead of them to actually prepare the path of where they go. So the king doesn't complain about, well, that was a real rocky road.

We went down there. And they would actually prep the road. And Isaiah 40 says this exact thing, that he's going to prepare the way for this king that's coming.

Make it smooth and straight and open. Right. And the way it's going to be smooth is by getting people's hearts awakened to the fact that they have a fundamental problem with sin. So John the Baptist's father, Zacharias, had received exactly those words from the angel Gabriel who visited him when he was praying for a child, right? That's right. In Luke 1 17, Gabriel says to him, and he, this child who'll be born, will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.

And it's he who will go as a forerunner before him, meaning Messiah, in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. There it is. There it is. That's John's mission statement.

There it is. John isn't there to save them. John's there to highlight the fact that they need saving. They need to turn toward God.

That's the context. And even as Gabriel talked to his, John the Baptist's father Zacharias, he says he's coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, which is important in Jewish lore. Even to this very day, the Jewish Passover Seder that's pronounced when families get to, they talk about the coming of Elijah still to this very day. You know, it's interesting because the heart of Elijah's message to the people back in the Old Testament was repent, repent, turn away from your gods and turn toward your God of Israel.

Exactly. So John the Baptist is like a carbon copy of Elijah. And later on, Jesus, as he's summarizing the life of John the Baptist, says, you know, if you will, he is the return of Elijah. He is the return of Elijah.

Yeah. And if you look at a description of Elijah, I had to go back and check this out in 2 Kings 1-8, they said to them that Elijah wore a garment of hair with a belt of leather about his waist. And they said, who's that guy? That's Elijah the Tishbite. So guess what the description of John the Baptist is next in verse four. Let's read on John four.

Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist and his food was locusts and wild honey. And then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him and they were baptized by him in the River Jordan confessing their sins. A perfect reflection of Elijah and the role of Elijah. So what's baptism? So now we have to talk about baptism.

We really do. Yeah. And baptism here in this context, the closest I can describe it is it's a ceremonial washing and it's demonstrating publicly a repentance, a change in regard to your own sins. Right. It's a public thing that's happening that demonstrates something has already taken place inside.

Exactly. So as people would confess their sins and repentance and say, yes, I am a sinner, then John the Baptist would ceremonially wash them in a way. Plunge them in the water because that's what the word baptized means, means to plunge something or to immerse it.

So they get plunged into the water and then lifted back out. So they've that symbolizing cleansing brought out into a new life and passing through the judgment and death that kind of hearkens back to coming out of Egypt and passing through the Red Sea. There's a lot of idea, lots of layers in baptism, but this is actually a literal thing that took place in the water, dunking people and swishing them clean and bringing them out. But in John's context, I mean, it's clearly where people were saying publicly, I do have a problem with sin. I am an outsider rather than a Jewish insider.

I have a problem with my sin between me and God. In fact, at the time, full immersion baptism was not unusual in Israel. That's what they used to bring Gentile converts into Judaism. And so they would do that. So in many respects, it's kind of unusual here that full Jews would say I'm dirty enough as the Gentiles are that become Jews that I have to go through the same process those Gentiles are.

They really are identifying with the outsideness of their lives, but because of sin, not because of ethnicity like the Gentiles. So it really is quite a public confession. And don't downplay how big a revival this was. I mean, look at all those words, all right there. People coming from everywhere out to this remote place. This was really a remarkable thing that was going on out in the wilderness. And a lot of people were responding, which is why the religious leaders had to come out and check it out too. So we better read on.

You couldn't ignore it. In verse seven, when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, you brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come, bear fruit in keeping with repentance and do not presume to say to yourselves, we have Abraham as our father. For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Yeah, better stop there.

Oh, yeah. I can see why John the Baptist would be so irate because here's people who are broken by this message of their sinfulness and basically calling out to God saying, God, you need to fix us. You need to wash us. I mean, real revival always starts this way. And so here's all these very genuine people who are just traumatized by a realization of their own sin and coming in great humility.

And then here come these guys. Here come these guys who start around in their self-made righteousness and maybe even want to get baptized. And John the Baptist says, no way.

You guys, your hearts aren't in the right place. Because what he was looking for was people whose lives would then show fruit of having turned toward God and set away from him. And we know that this is historically going to go on through the whole ministry of Jesus, this confrontation with the religious leaders. So every time someone came to a conviction of sin from here on in the gospel and publicly wanted to proclaim, yes, I am a sinner and I need God's help to fix that, you'd be baptized.

That's the public way of actually stating that. But here, John the Baptist also puts his finger on their problem. They are presuming that they are insiders with God because of their racial connection to Abraham. And he says, look, don't, it's not going to, you say to yourselves, we have Abraham as our father.

Well, look, I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children of Abraham. And then he says something really interesting about the ax being laid to the root of the trees. So basically if a tree is not fruitful, saying these guys are representing that, then the ax is laid to the root of the tree and it's cut down. Something they very often saw when they had all the orchards around Israel. And he's saying to them, you guys are bad fruit from a bad tree.

And any tree that doesn't bear good fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Wow. So, okay, we need to press on.

Keep going, keep going. He says, I baptize with water for repentance, but he who's coming after me is mightier than I whose sandals I'm not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. This is a message of judgment. Well and that lines up at the end of verse seven, the wrath to come.

The coming of this kingdom is the coming of judgment regarding sin. And here John is just amplifying that with this imagery of this fire. So the one who I'm not worthy to untie his sandals, he's going to fully immerse you, baptize. He's going to fully immerse you in the Holy Spirit, which happens, right? We see that at Pentecost. But he's also going to immerse you in fire, which is a painful symbol of judgment. And he has his winnowing fork in his hand.

He uses a different image right here. And you know, when you separated chaff from wheat, you kept the good wheat would fall on the ground, you'd throw the chaff up in the air and the wind would blow it sideways and the heavier wheat kernels would fall down. This is the separating of the useless from the useful, the fruit from the non-fruit. And the grain hits the threshing floor, that's what he says. And the tool you use to throw that wheat up in the air to have the chaff blown away is what he talks about right here.

It's his winnowing fork. So God's getting ready to separate. Well and we see that happening through the ministry of Jesus and we'll see it coming up that in Matthew, that people separated over Jesus. You either believed him, repented and began to follow or refused to believe and denied and were separated out, right? Yeah.

Yeah. So John the Baptist clearly defines his role in verse 11. He says, I, you know, I came to bring up the subject of repentance, the need for repentance, but look, the one who's coming, who is the entry of the kingdom of heaven is coming, who will actually execute that judgment. And he's near. He's at hand, which means it's close enough to touch, close enough to touch.

It's at hand. It's really quite a fiery in your face, you know, no holds barred kind of proclamation from John the Baptist that you guys have a problem with sin and you might have never have thought about it before, but there's one coming who will deal with that sin. Well, I don't think anybody had ever stood up to them this way before.

No, no, no. Here's John in public calling the identified religious leaders a brood of vipers. Which is a great phrase because it means that their mothers and fathers are snakes. That's what the brood means.

You're from the family of snakes. Yeah, it's harsh. A little testament imagery back there. Wow. It's harsh.

It's really something. And Jesus doesn't let up through Matthew. I mean, you see this come back and over until you get to the very end of Matthew and he's separating the sheep and the goats. He does his woes to them.

Woe to you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites. Oh, we're going to have fun with Matthew. Yeah.

So, John the Baptist starts this confrontation with the religious, presumably elite and doesn't stop because Jesus doesn't stop. Well, let's push on. What do you say? Okay. 13.

13. Then Jesus came from Galilee. So there already had been this discussion going.

Yes. Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan, to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him saying, I need to be baptized by you. And do you come to me? But Jesus answered him, let it be so now for thus it's fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.

Then he consented. Do you want to stop there and talk about that for a second before we finish? Yeah. Because that's an interesting phrase when Jesus says, thus it's fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. What does he mean by that?

Yeah. I wish he was more clear, but there's lots of ways you can look at it. But where we live, that is often said that Jesus had to be baptized just like we have to be baptized. In the false religion we live in. In the false religion where we live.

So it's probably a good idea since that's where this program is broadcast. We need to talk about that a little bit. What did he mean? Yeah. To fulfill all righteousness.

Think of it this way for a second too. All the other people that were getting baptized there, not Jesus, but the other people getting baptized, they were confessing their own sins and the need for God to fix it. In a sense you could say that Jesus was confessing the sins of the world.

Of all people. As he gets baptized and is raised proclaiming a fix to that. So in a sense he was confessing sins but not his own. Not his own. Not his own.

Everyone else's. So to fulfill righteousness, for righteousness, which is the opposite of sin, to be fulfilled, Jesus needed to be identified with fallen mankind. And so he's identifying with fallen mankind. Not that he is in need of cleansing, but he's identifying with a mankind that does need cleansing. And then when he comes up out of the water we find out that indeed this is not a typical baptism. This is sort of like many other ones because we're talking about confessing, but something far remarkably beyond that as well.

So if you want to say, make the case that Jesus had to get baptized for his own sins because that's what the other people were doing, no. That's not what's demonstrated here. And you'll see the narrative switch here to tell you that this is a different kind of thing.

But I will say this. He is clearly identifying with those of fallen mankind. That's what he's doing here.

Identifying with sinful people who need repentance and moving into a new life. And I would just add to that that in a way that foreshadows that his own death and resurrection was going to allow all who would believe to enter into that, that death and new life. And of course we could go on. Paul expands the whole imagery of it later on too. Right. But that's just, we just opened the box there. You can think about that.

We'll keep talking about it. But Jesus did not become baptized in order to be righteous. No. And you have to understand, neither did the people. When they were baptized, they were not cleansed from their sins. That would be what happened through what Jesus does. All they were doing was confessing the need for that and appealing to God for that. Yeah, exactly.

Okay. So Jesus says that and then John consents. And then here's the part that attracts our attention. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water and behold, the chains were opened to him. And he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. And behold, a voice from heaven said, this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.

Yes. This is what makes his baptism different. So if you think he's getting baptized to get rid of his own sin, you missed it.

You just totally missed it. And yet there is an element here that is evidenced by what happens in us when we are identified with the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Then we receive the Holy Spirit and are adopted into God's family and identified as his children.

So this is the pattern. But here's the public identification in the eyes and ears of John the Baptist and the people around. God's saying, this is my son. And John the Baptist had already gone ahead saying, there's someone else coming. There's someone else coming. And for the people who had been with John out there in the desert, you know, when they see this happen with Jesus, they've got to immediately be saying to themselves, this must be the guy.

Something happened here. Because I just heard a voice from heaven say, this is my beloved son with whom I'm well pleased. And that was John's whole role is to prepare people and identify Messiah when he came. Say the King's coming.

Oop, the King's here. If you remember in the beginning of the Gospel of John, he says, behold, there's the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Yeah. And later on he says, I must decrease and he must increase. So John's job is kind of done here. Well, not done. He'll continue to do this for a while. For a little while. But he is continuing to point to Jesus.

That's the important thing here. He's pointing to Jesus as the solution to our new sensitized, repentant understanding of our own sins. And it isn't very long into the ministry of Jesus when John the Baptist becomes locked up and shut away and eventually dies there in the prison. So it's a fascinating part of the story that his job was to go ahead and prepare the way and identify Messiah to the people. And then once Jesus was in full ministry, John completed the task he was given to do and God took him home.

Yeah. In fact, there's a section in the Gospels where Jesus is in the prison, is doing his ministry and then someone brings him news about the fact that John has been killed. And it is somewhat emotionally disturbing to him.

It says he has to go off in private. And I mean, he knew this was coming, but still it was a really moving thing to him to hear the death of John. So Bible students, take your concordance and find in each of the Gospels where John the Baptist shows up because that will flesh out this picture. Because in another Gospel, John the Baptist says himself, now God had made clear to me the one who comes and to whom I see on whom I see the Holy Spirit coming and resting.

This is confirmation that that's the guy. Now, maybe some of you don't realize that John the Baptist and Jesus were actually relatives. Their mothers were related. Well, some form of cousin.

Right. That John the Baptist's mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus' mother, Mary, were related to each other. I think they were cousins. They were, apparently. So some manner of cousin.

Yeah. Not that distant. But there's no evidence that they knew each other growing up or had ever had any interaction with each other.

So this may have been the first. Well, because we know the story that pretty quickly, the family moved up to Nazareth and John the Baptist's father was a priest in the temple. They're in Jerusalem. So they may not really have ever interacted except on the three big feast celebrations. But they knew about each other. Because I have trouble believing that those two mothers who had that incredible encounter that Luke 2 describes. That's true. Or Luke 1 describes, would not have told those stories to their sons.

Yeah, that's true. Well, before we finish, I might want to point out the very last thing here about the Trinity. Because in this very last section is one of the few places where the Trinity shows up in stark relief. Almost visibly.

Yeah. Because the father says, this is my beloved son. There's the father and son in whom I'm well pleased. And the Holy Spirit had come down on him. So right there, you have all three kind of coexisting in this one event. And so the idea of the Trinity, although many people will say, well, the word Trinity isn't in the Bible. But you know, the whole aspect of what it is is. And here's our very powerful one right here.

Right here. So very clearly for public demonstration purposes, God is putting his affirmation on who this man is coming up out of the water. He's the son of the father. And the father is making a verbal proclamation that people can hear that this is his son and he's happy with what's going on here. This is according to plan. There's no doubting at this point that this gigantic revival of the understanding of sin that John has been in the center of is now redirecting his focus on the Savior himself, which is Jesus.

And God does that demonstrably here without any, any dispute at all. It's just public. Everybody knows. Wow. And what a start.

The visual presentation of the Holy Spirit. Yeah. Yeah. It doesn't say he was a dove. It says he came to like a dove, something, something evident. Yeah. Luke says the same thing, but he adds this one phrase in bodily form, something physical. So you can actually see it happen.

Something came down and rested on him. Right. You're right. And it's easily interpreted as the spirit, but you could see it. Well, we're out of time already, but we have launched the ministry of Jesus with the aid of his forerunner, who is John the Baptist, who gave people a knowledge of sin. And then Jesus stepped in and said, you got a problem with sin? I can, I'm the answer. I'm the guy. So come back and we'll look more at how that kind of fulfills itself here on More Than Ink. Is your coffee kicked in yet?

I can just walk. This has been a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-25 14:14:08 / 2023-02-25 14:25:52 / 12

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