Matthew 3

 

But John warned them that being a descendant of Abraham according to the flesh was not important to God. Just as God created the first man out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), so God can create children of Abraham out of stones. What is important to God is that a man be a true Jew in his heart, not just in body. Even though the Pharisees and Sadducees were descendants of Abraham according to the flesh, they were not true Jews in God’s eyes, because they were not righteous in their hearts. A true “Jew” is one who does God’s will and who puts his faith in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ (see John 8:39; Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:6-9 and comments).

In the same way, those who are Christians only outwardly are not true Christians. A man is not born a Christian. A man is not a Christian simply because his father is a Christian. He is not a Christian simply because he is a member of some church. Rather, a man is a Christian only if he is a Christian inwardly; that is, a man must have true faith in Christ from his heart.

10 Then, using the example of a barren tree, John warned the Pharisees and Sadducees that God would reject them and punish them if they did not bear the good fruit of repentance and faith (see Matthew 7:17-20; John 15:1-2,5-6).

11 See Mark 1:7-8 and comment.

12 John the Baptist said, “After me will come one who is more powerful than I,” that is, Christ (verse 11). Christ will come not only as a Savior but also as a judge. He will come with a winnowing fork, which is a sign of judgment. He will separate the wheat from the chaff; that is, He will reward the truly righteous and will punish those who only appear righteous outwardly, the hypocrites. God looks at a person’s heart, not at his outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).

 

(Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22)

13-17 See Mark 1:9-11 and comment.

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