The Work of John the Baptist(A)
3 ·About that time [In the course of time; L In those days] John the Baptist began preaching in the ·desert area [wilderness] of Judea. 2 John said, “·Change your hearts and lives [Repent] because the kingdom of heaven ·is near [has drawn near; is at hand].” 3 ·John the Baptist [L For this] is the one Isaiah the prophet was talking about when he said:
“This is a voice of one
who ·calls out [shouts; cries out] in the ·desert [wilderness]:
‘Prepare the way for the Lord.
Make ·the road straight [a clear path] for him [Is. 40:3].’”
4 John’s clothes were made from camel’s hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist [C reminiscent of the prophet Elijah; 2 Kin. 1:8]. For food, he ate locusts and wild honey [C signifies living off the land]. 5 Many people came from Jerusalem and Judea and all the ·area [region] around the Jordan River to hear John. 6 They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River.
7 Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to the place where John was baptizing people. When John saw them, he said, “You ·are snakes [T brood/offspring of vipers]! Who warned you to ·run [slither; L flee] away from God’s coming ·punishment [wrath; retribution]? 8 ·Do the things [L Produce the fruit] ·that show you really have changed your hearts and lives [that prove your repentance; L of repentance]. 9 And don’t ·think you can [presume to] say to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father [C a claim to be God’s special people].’ [L For] I tell you that God could ·make [create; L raise up] children for Abraham from these rocks. 10 The ax ·is now ready to cut down [already lies at the root of] the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire [C a metaphor for judgment].
John Preaches About the Christ(B)
11 “I baptize you with water ·to show that your hearts and lives have changed [for repentence]. But there is one coming after me who is ·greater [mightier; more powerful] than I am, whose sandals I am not ·good enough [fit; qualified] to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 ·He will come ready [L The winnowing fork is in his hand] to clean the grain, ·separating the good grain from the chaff [L to clear his threshing floor]. He will put ·the good part of the grain [L the grain/wheat] into his barn, but he will burn the chaff with ·a fire that cannot be put out [never-ending/unquenchable fire; C a metaphor for judgment, when Jesus will separate the righteous from the wicked].”
Jesus Is Baptized by John(C)
13 ·At that time [Then] Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River ·and wanted John to baptize him [L to be baptized by John]. 14 But John tried to ·stop [deter; dissuade; prevent] him, saying, “·Why do [Do] you come to me to be baptized? I need to be baptized by you!”
15 Jesus answered, “Let it ·be this way for [happen] now. ·We should do all things that are God’s will [or In this way we will do what God requires; L For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness].” So John ·agreed to baptize Jesus [gave in; consented; allowed it].
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then ·heaven [the sky/heavens] opened, and he saw God’s Spirit ·coming down [descending and lighting/settling] on him like a dove [C either in the form of a dove, or in bird-like descent]. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my ·Son, whom I love [dearly beloved Son; Ps. 2:7; Gen. 22:2], and I am ·very [well] pleased with him [Is. 42:1].”