Live In:0:00:00 Watch Live Stream
Matthew 3:1-17

Make Ready the Way

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • April 15, 2018

It is unnerving to feel or be unprepared! When it comes to life and what happens after this life is over, God does not want us to be unprepared. In Matthew 3:1-17, we will discover what the Lord has done to “Make Ready the Way” so that we will be ready and rejoice when we stand in His presence.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture
Make Ready the Way

Matthew 3:1-17 


ILLUS – My first and last Calculus class.

1. It is unnerving to feel or be unprepared!

2. When it comes to life and what happens after this life is over, God does not want us to be unprepared.

3. In Matthew 3:1-17, we will discover what the Lord has done to “Make Ready the Way” so that we will rejoice when we stand in His presence.

Matthew 3:1-17


1. At the end of Matthew 2, Joseph, Mary, and the Child, Jesus, in a town called Nazareth.

2. The Apostle Matthew skipped over the years that Jesus was a child, teenager, and young adult to focus on the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

3. But in an interesting twist, we are not immediately introduced to Jesus as an adult, but to a man we know as John the Baptist.

I. John Prepared the Way for Messiah (1-12)

  • God promised Israel that He would raise up a prophet, like Moses, to lead His people.

Deuteronomy 18:18, I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

  • God faithfully raised up prophet after prophet to direct Israel just as He said.
  • But after the prophet Malachi, there were 400 years of silence because there was no prophet in Israel.
  • What were some of the last prophetic words that Israel heard through Malachi?

Malachi 3:1, Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. 

Malachi 4:1-2, 5, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root or branch. But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.”

  • Why did God allow 400 years of silence?

Amos 8:11, “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD, But they will not find it.”

ILLUS – The “Silent Treatment”

  • Then a man dressed in a garment of camel hair with a leather belt fastened around his waist, whose diet consists of locusts and wild honey appeared on the scene.
  • According to 2 Kings 1:8, the prophet Elijah “was a hairy man with a leather girdle about his loins.”
  • God called Elijah during a very dark time in Israel’s history with a simple message, “Repent!”
  • Now John, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, appeared in the wilderness of Judea preaching… 

A. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand

1. The 400 years of silence were over!

2. All four Gospels link John the Baptist with the prophecy of Isaiah given 700 years earlier.

Isaiah 40:3-5, A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

3. Isaiah 40 refers to the “highway construction workers” who were called to clear the way in the desert for the return of the Lord as His people, the exiles, returned from captivity in Babylon in 537 B.C.

4. Likewise, John was in the desert preparing the way for the Lord by calling God’s people to return to Him.

5. John’s message was simple, “Repent” (2)

a. This is not a “Seeker Friendly” message!!

b. But when you look at John’s message, there was nothing compromising about it. Large crowds from Jerusalem and Judea came out to the Jordan River to confess their sins and be baptized by him (5-6).

6. Repent is a good word! To repent means to turn around, to have a change of mind and heart which is confirmed by your choices! To get off the road that leads to destruction and walk on the road that leads to God; where your eyes are fixed on Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-2, Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.

a. John wasn’t trying to hurt people by calling them sinners.

b. He was trying to pry open their eyes to see the dangerous path they were on, so that they may get on the right path, the narrow way that leads to eternal life.

Matthew 7:13-14, Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

ILLUS – A truck driver’s reply when I greeted him. 

2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

7. Why repent? The “kingdom of heaven is near”.

a. This means God’s rule in heaven will be extended to earth through the Messiah!

b. God is offering His Kingdom, so John is preparing the people its arrival.

c. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray for God’s kingdom and will.

Matthew 6:9-10, Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

B. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance

1. When John saw the Pharisees and Sadducees, he questioned their motives.

a. They were corrupt, wealthy, religious leaders who burdened the Jews with their legalistic interpretations of the Mosaic Law.

b. John called them a “brood of vipers” because they were influenced by and did the work of the serpent of old, Satan! (7)

John 8:44, You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.

2. Then John commanded them to “bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance” (8).

a. Perhaps they were insecure and feared losing their control of the people.

b. Maybe it was that fashionable thing to do because John was growing in popularity and considered a prophet.

ILLUS – People wearing WWJD bracelets in Texas

3. John confronted the root of the problem; they had religion, but they had no spiritual reality.

Quote: “God gets to the root of our lives for the root determines the fruit.” (Warren Wiersbe)

APPL - When there is genuine revival, there is true change and fruit in keeping with repentance. The heart that is truly changed says, “I do what I do because this is who I am!”

  • It’s more than just words, that’s “lip service!” Lip service means nothing to God.
  • God expects good fruit from our lives. Lip service never produces the kind of fruit God is looking for.

Isaiah 5:3-4, And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? 

4. John challenged them further by saying, “do not suppose that you can say to yourselves,

‘We have Abraham as our father…’”

a. That was a common belief. If you were a physical descendant of Abraham, you’re in!

ILLUS – My reply to Christian friends when they told me about Jesus.

b. But Abraham had authentic faith in God.

APPL - You can’t get right with God by hitchhiking a ride on another person’s faith. Each person must have their own relationship with God, receiving the forgiveness of their sins by placing their faith in Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:6-7, Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.

C. Everyone will be baptized

1. John warned them that judgment was coming, “the axe is already at the root.” (10)

2. Then John shifted metaphors and described two baptisms; the Holy Spirit and fire. (11)

3. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit after He ascended to heaven.

Acts 1:8, … but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

4. This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples.

a. That day marked the beginning of the Christian Church.

b. That day 3,000 people heard the Apostle Peter’s words and placed their faith in Jesus for salvation! (Acts 2:41).

5. Now, the Holy Spirit is given to all who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.

1 Corinthians 12:13, For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free

6. But John said that Jesus would also baptize with fire. While some debate about the meaning, verse 12 answers any questions.

a. At the end of the age, He will clear the threshing floor and separate the wheat (Christians) and the chaff (non-Christians).

b. The wheat is brought into the barn (heaven) and the chaff is burned in the fire (lake of fire).

APPL – Everyone will be baptized with either the Holy Spirit because they have placed their faith in Jesus Christ salvation, or eternal fire because they have rejected Christ’s offer for salvation.

Transition – So John was called to make ready the way so that the people are prepared to hear the Good News that Jesus was going to proclaim. But there was a second part to John’s calling, to identify the One who is Messiah.

II. Jesus Is the Way (13-17)

A. Jesus came to fulfill all righteousness

1. Jesus came to make a way also, a way for us to come to the Father, to have everlasting life!

2. Jesus came to be baptized by John, but John resisted and declared that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. (14)

3. Why did Jesus need to be baptized? He did not need to repent of any sin.

1 John 3:5, And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

4. Jesus was baptized to be identified with those He came to save. He identified with sinful humanity to make a way between a holy God and a sinful people.

Romans 8:3-4, For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

B. No one comes to the Father apart from Jesus

1. John baptized Jesus and a miraculous scene unfolded. (16-17)

a.The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, came down upon Jesus.

b.The voice of the Father declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

c. The Trinity is clearly seen in this passage: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. One God in three co-equal, co-existent persons.

2. This authentication from heaven confirmed that Jesus is the Messiah, the only One who makes a way to the Father.

3. John also bore witness that Jesus is Messiah.

John 1:32-34, John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

4. There is only One Way and Jesus is it!

John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

APPL - I find it interesting that the early church was called the “Way” (Acts 9:2) before they were called “Christians” (Acts 11:26).

  • What has He called us, the “Way” to do? Share the “Way” to the Father with others…

Matthew 28:19-20, God therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

  • Bear good fruit as disciples of Jesus

John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.


APPL – Jesus is coming back!

  • We must be ready for Jesus’ return even though we do not know the hour of His return.
  • We must be faithful servants so that when He appears, He will find us doing what He has called us to do.
  • It will be worth it when we hear Him say,

Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.”  

Matthew 3:1-17     NASB

1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight!'" 4  Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then 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 Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at 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 with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" 15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

Audio Listen to the sermon
Webcast Other ways to view this message

Donate Like this sermon?

If you enjoyed the sermon and would like to financially support our teaching ministry, we thank you in advance for partnering with us in sending forth the word.

We have a service in progress. Would you like to join our live stream? Join The Live Stream No Thanks
0 items currently in your cart.
Log In

Lost password?

Forgot or lost your password? Enter your email address we'll send you instructions on how to reset it.