Matthew changes the scene from Nazareth to the Judean wilderness. He describes Jesus’s childhood to just before He begins His public ministry. Matthew introduces John the Baptizer and his main message: “Repent, because the Kingdom of Heaven is coming very soon.”
Matthew points out that John the Baptizer is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3.
Matthew describes John’s strange appearance and extreme diet. Many from Jerusalem and the surrounding areas were attracted to John and drawn by his warnings to repent. As they came to him they confessed their sins. As a sign of their commitment to God they were baptized by John in the Jordan River.
Matthew introduces the main opponents of Jesus as Messiah: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They have heard of John’s popularity and have come to be baptized by him. Instead of being warmly received by John, he gives them a startling rebuke.
John continues his rebuke of the Pharisees and Sadducees with a stern warning.
John confesses that he is not the Messiah. John is only a lowly forerunner of the Messiah. John shifts metaphors and warns that the Messiah is coming very soon to reap. He will gather the faithful unto Himself and He will incinerate everything that is unfit and everyone who is unworthy when He appears.
Jesus arrives from Galilee in order to be baptized by John. John recognizes Jesus as the Messiah and baptizes Him. As soon as Jesus comes up from the water, God’s Spirit descends as a dove and lands on Him. A voice from Heaven announces that Jesus is the Son of God.
The scene shifts in this chapter from Jesus’s lineage, birth, and upbringing to the start of His ministry as a thirty-year-old man. Matthew introduces us to the strange figure of John the Baptizer (Jesus’s cousin) before describing the political opposition Jesus will encounter throughout His ministry as the Messiah. Sadly, these antagonists include the Pharisees, the religious heroes of Israel; and the Sadducees, the priestly elites. Chapter 3 culminates with John baptizing his cousin. As He rises from the waters, Jesus receives a very public seal of approval from the Father God and Holy Spirit.