Matthew 3 Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Preaching of John the Baptist
3 In those days [a]John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea [along the western side of the Dead Sea] and saying, 2 “[b]Repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 This is the one who was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
4 Now this same John had clothing made of camel’s hair and a [wide] leather [d]band around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 At that time Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the [e]Pharisees and [f]Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the [divine] wrath and judgment to come? 8 So produce fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin]; 9 and do not presume to say to yourselves [as a defense], ‘We have Abraham for our father [so our inheritance assures us of salvation]’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children (descendants) for Abraham. 10 And already the axe [of God’s judgment] is [g]swinging toward the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “As for me, I baptize you [h]with water because of [your] repentance [that is, because you are willing to change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret your sin and live a changed life], but He (the Messiah) who is coming after me is mightier [more powerful, more noble] than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to remove [even as His slave]; He will baptize you [who truly repent] with the Holy Spirit and [you who remain unrepentant] with [i]fire (judgment). 12 His [j]winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat (believers) into His barn (kingdom), but He will burn up the chaff (the unrepentant) with unquenchable fire.”
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan [River], to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him [vigorously protesting], saying, “It is I who need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus replied to him, “Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for us [k]to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John permitted [it and baptized] Him. 16 After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John) saw the [l]Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him (Jesus), 17 and behold, a [m]voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!”
Matthew 3 The Voice (VOICE)
Nazarene means, “tender, green, or living branch.” Jesus is the living Branch, the branch of David that extends the reach of the tree of Israel eventually to foreigners and outsiders.
3 Around the same time, a man called John[a] began to travel, preach, and ritually wash people through baptism in the wilderness of Judea. John preached a stern but exciting message.
John: 2 Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near.
3 John’s proclamation fulfilled a promise made by the ancient prophet Isaiah, who had said, “There will be a voice calling from the desert, saying,
Prepare the road for the Eternal One’s journey;
4 John wore wild clothes made from camel hair with a leather belt around his waist—the clothes of an outcast, a rebel. He ate locusts and wild honey.
Sometimes when people see John they are reminded of the last time God’s people had wandered in a wilderness—after the exodus from Egypt. John is all about wilderness. He preaches in the wilderness, and he wears clothes just like the prophet Elijah had worn. They think perhaps John is inaugurating a new exodus. Actually, that is a pretty good way to think of it. The Anointed One, whose way John comes to prepare, will call humanity away from comfort and status; He will call His followers to challenge their assumptions and the things they take for granted.
5 People from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and indeed from all around the river Jordan came to John. 6 They confessed their sins, and they were baptized[c] by him in the Jordan.
But John is not exactly warm to all those who come to him seeking cleansing.
7 He told some Pharisees and Sadducees who came for the ritual baptism,
John: You children of serpents! You brood of vipers! Did someone suggest you flee from the wrath that is upon us? 8-9 If you think that simply hopping in the Jordan will cleanse you, then you are sorely mistaken. Your life must bear the fruits of turning toward righteousness. Nor are you correct if you think that being descended from Abraham is enough to make you holy and right with God. Yes, the children of Abraham are God’s chosen children, but God can adopt as daughters and sons anyone He likes—He can turn these stones into sons if He likes.
To be made right with God, one must truly repent. It means to turn completely away from sin and completely toward God.
10 Even now there is an ax poised at the root of every tree, and every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and tossed into the fire. 11 I ritually cleanse you through baptism[d] as a mark of turning your life around. But someone is coming after me, someone whose sandals I am not fit to carry, someone who is more powerful than I. He will wash[e] you not in water but in fire and with the Holy Spirit. 12 He carries a winnowing fork in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor; He will gather up the good wheat in His barn, and He will burn the chaff with a fire that cannot be put out.
13 And then, the One of whom John spoke—the all-powerful Jesus—came to the Jordan from Galilee to be washed[f] by John. 14 At first, John demurred.
John: I need to be cleansed[g] by You. Why do You come to me?
Jesus: 15 It will be right, true, and faithful to God’s chosen path for you to cleanse Me with your hands in the Jordan River.
John agreed, and he ritually cleansed Jesus, dousing Him in the waters of the Jordan. 16 Jesus emerged from His baptism;[h] and at that moment heaven was opened, and Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him, alighting on His very body.
Voice from Heaven: 17 This is My Son, whom I love; this is the Apple of My eye; with Him I am well pleased.