Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3 The Ministry and Message of John the Baptist
As we encounter multiple Gospel accounts of the same events, we will sometimes study an event in only one of the Gospels, while at other times we will consider more than one account. In the case of John the Baptist, we have already studied a portion of his ministry in John 1, wherein he guided some of his own followers toward Jesus Christ, as he also bore witness of the Savior. We will now consider more:
Matthew 3:1-12 The Forerunner and Teacher (see also Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-9, 16-18)
- In addition to his role as a forerunner of Christ, what was John the Baptist’s other major message, in Matthew 3:1-2, 7-8?
- What do you think it means to bring “fruits meet for repentance”?
- How did the various groups of people respond to the ministry of John the Baptist, in Matthew 3:5-7?
- What things did John say about Jesus Christ in Matthew 3:11-12?
Luke 3:10-15 Additional Teachings of John
- What further teachings about repentance did John the Baptist offer the people, in Luke 3:10-11?
- What did he say to the publicans (the Roman tax collectors) in Luke 3:12-13?
- What teachings did he give to the Roman soldiers, in Luke 3:14?
- Note how all three of these teachings are calling for potential followers to shed selfishness, which requires humility.
- Note that Luke 3:15 records the people’s “expectation” of the Messiah, wondering if John was the Christ.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Twelve taught the following about repentance, in the October 2016 general conference: “Joy is one of the inherent results of repentance…. Changing our behavior and returning to the right road are part of repentance, but only part. Real repentance also includes a turning of our heart and will to God and a renunciation of sin…. Yet even this is an incomplete description. It does not properly identify the power that makes repentance possible, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Real repentance must involve faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith that He can change us, faith that He can forgive us, and faith that He will help us avoid more mistakes. This kind of faith makes His Atonement effective in our lives…. The fact that we can repent is the good news of the gospel! Guilt can be swept away. We can be filled with joy, receive a remission of our sins, and have peace of conscience.”
President Boyd K. Packer taught in the April 2015 general conference (his last conference address before he passed away): “The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed.… It just heals, and what it heals stays healed. The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that.… The Atonement … can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated.”
Matthew 3:13-17 The Baptism of Jesus (see also Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22)
- We assume that John received the priesthood authority to baptize from his father, Zacharias, who was a temple priest.
- What was John the Baptist’s reaction when Jesus asked John to baptize Him, in Matthew 3:13-14?
- How did the Savior reply to John, in Matthew 3:15? (see also 2 Nephi 31:4-7).
- What two forms of witness occurred, testifying of Jesus as the Son of God, in Matthew 3:16-17?
- How do you know in your heart that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of Heavenly Father and our appointed Redeemer?
- Additional teachings that we can draw from Jesus’s baptism are the principle of baptism by immersion (Jesus “went up straightway out of the water”; Matthew 3:16; and the doctrine of three separate Members of the Godhead; Jesus is on earth, the Holy Ghost descended like a dove upon Jesus, and the Father’s voice is heard from heaven; Matthew 3:16-17).
Note 1: The events in the rest of the first chapter of Mark (verses 12-45) mostly pertain to Jesus’s second Galilean ministry and therefore will be considered in our next lesson, along with Matthew 4 and Luke 4-5.
Note 2: Mark 1:14 and Luke 3:19-20 speak of Herod’s imprisonment of John the Baptist, which goes along with similar accounts that come later in Matthew 14 and Mark 6. This will be covered in a future lesson.
Note 3: The rest of Luke 3 (verses 23-38) were addressed in our second lesson, along with Matthew 1:1-17.