“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.’’
Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”
In the Bible, John the Baptist must have been an extremely important figure. John the Baptist cried out for repentance from the people of Israel. We must remember precisely the work of Jesus and John the Baptist. Jesus, who came to this world saved mankind, obeying the will of God along with John the Baptist. John the Baptist and Jesus came to this world and accomplished righteous deeds.
John the Baptist urged the people of Israel to return to God. We can see in Matthew 3:7 that John the Baptist boldly rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees saying: “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” when he saw them coming to him while he was baptizing. This John the Baptist rebuked the people of Israel severely as a prophet: “Repent, you brood of vipers!” John the Baptist was a prophet who did righteous deeds in God’s eyes and was the last prophet of the Old Testament era.
Some wonder how John the Baptist, as a prophet of God, could have uttered such a horrible expression as “Brood of vipers.” However, the Bible has it recorded and tells us that it was a righteous deed in front of God. All prophets should be people who can cry out for the righteous deed of God. And there came another One who accomplished righteous deeds besides John the Baptist. That was Jesus.
In the Bible, Sadducees are politicians. They are the politicians of the world. They put more emphasis on the politics of this world than serving God. However, the Pharisees were the conservative religious leaders. At the same time they said they believed in God’s Word as it was, they denied Jesus.
God was greatly disappointed when He saw these people. In God’s eyes, are these evil people or not? The Pharisees and the Sadducees are evil people in God’s eyes.
The Pharisees did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. That is why it is correct when John the Baptist called them a brood of vipers. John the Baptist did not compromise with the religious men of that time. Rather than compromising with the Pharisees and Sadducees, he tried to turn them around by rebuking them as a brood of vipers. John the Baptist taught the people who were returning to God that repenting was not good enough, but they needed to have the fruits of their repentance, and that they needed to turn away from evil. For example, they have to return and pay back all the money they had exploited. Then they could come back to him for baptism, and return to God.
When we listen to his claims, we can see without a doubt that he was a servant sent by God. About the time that John the Baptist appeared was the time that Jesus Christ started His public ministry. John the Baptist’s proclamation was to help the work of Jesus. At that time, there had not been a servant of God for about 400 years to the people of Israel. Therefore, the appearance of John the Baptist was an opportunity as well for the people of Israel to hear the providence of God and the voice of God.
John the Baptist cried out: “Brood of vipers, repent and return to God. Turn away from idolatry. You need to renounce foreign gods and return to God to avoid God’s judgment.” It was a great blessing to the people of Israel that a servant of God could rebuke and advise them like that. The entire nation of Israel was shaken by the cries of John the Baptist. The miracle of the High Priests, Sadducees, and Pharisees coming to John the Baptist, repenting and returning to God occurred.
John the Baptist testifies about the abilities of Jesus Christ, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12). He testifies that he does the work of turning people back to God by rebuking them, but the one who comes after him will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John the Baptist said that people who were born again by believing in Jesus will be gathered as the wheat into Heaven and the ones who are not born again will be separated with winnowing fan as chaff and be burned with unquenchable fire.
We must know that John the Baptist cried out for repentance in God, and that Jesus Christ, when He came to this world, received baptism from John the Baptist. According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was about thirty years old when He was baptized (Luke 3:23). Here, why did Jesus want to be baptized when He was thirty? The reason that it was ‘about thirty’ was because one had to be thirty years old in order to carry out his duties as a High Priest. God said in the Old Testament that the sons of the High Priests had the ability to take on the responsibility when they turned 30 years old (Numbers 4:35). Likewise, when Jesus turned 30, He was baptized by John the Baptist.
The reason that Jesus received baptism from John the Baptist was to accomplish all the righteousness of God. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist to take on the sins of everyone in the world.
However, people are confused and do not understand why Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist is a secret revealed in the Bible. Many people do not understand the secret of the baptism and misunderstand why Jesus was baptized. They think it was to present an example or to show modesty.
We must know that Jesus came to this world and was baptized to save everyone in the world from his sins. Jesus could accomplish the righteous deed of taking on the sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist when He came to this world. The righteous deed is that Jesus took on all the sins of the world once and for all by getting baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus’ baptism was to fulfill all the righteousness of God and was the will of God that was pleasing to Him. Our Lord came to this world to save us from all our sins. He was baptized to take on the sins of yours and mine once and for all by the baptism and bled to death for us. The Lord took on all the sins of the world once and for all.
In Matthew 3:15, “all the righteousness” means Jesus taking on all the sins of the world by being baptized by John, and bleeding to death on the Cross. At that time, Jesus took on all the sins of the world, all of our sins. How fortunate is it, and how thankful are we?
Fellow Christians, do we commit sins in this world or not? We commit sins. Do we only commit a few sins here and there? Or do we sin greatly? You commit many sins in this world, and your sins are included in all the sins of the world. Jesus took on all the sins of the world once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, and bled to death on the Cross once and for all, and wiped out the sins and judgment.
How could you and I be those without sin if Jesus did not take on all the sins of yours and mine once and for all? This Truth is the righteousness that our Lord fulfilled by being baptized and bleeding when He came to this world. Jesus is the Savior who came to this world as the Son of God and took care of the sins of the world and the judgment of the sins for us.
What We Need to Remember
As we greet Christmas this year, we must remember that John the Baptist and Jesus fulfilled the righteousness of God that no one else could have done. As we greet Christmas, we need to think: ‘how can I join in on the righteousness work as we greet Christmas, as we commemorate our Lord who fulfilled the righteousness?’ rather than ‘how can I have fun? How can I make good memories?’ We can certainly remember the work of John the Baptist and Jesus. We, too, should be those who think of Jesus and John the Baptist who fulfilled all righteousness on this Christmas. Our lives should be devoted solely to spreading that righteousness of God. After we receive the remission of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we must continue to lead a life that spreads this gospel.
What would we be if we do not offer ourselves to this righteous ministry that spreads the gospel of the water and the Spirit? How can we expect God to give us His blessing if we do not participate in this righteous ministry? We must participate since we know that Jesus has saved us by taking on all of the sins of mankind. Is it not necessary to spread all over the world the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Can we do righteous deeds according to the flesh? Can we avoid committing sins by trying not to do them? How can we, the insufficient ones, live the righteous life after receiving the remission of sin? Would it not be possible by spreading this gospel of the water and the Spirit that saved us from the sins of the world through Jesus who came to this world, took on all the sins to the Cross, bled and died so that He could take on the judgment of the sins for us? What would truly be the good work that you and I do in this world? Would God be happy by our proper behavior and memorable deeds?
The most righteous work for us in this world is spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What is righteous is devoting all of our hearts and energy into spreading this gospel of the water and the Spirit. Whatever appearance you have, God will only be glad when you are involved in the work of spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
What does it mean that when Jesus was getting baptized he said: “For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness, then he allowed Him” (Matthew 3:15). These are the words of testimony that tell us that Jesus took on all the sins of the world that we have committed by the baptism that He had received from John the Baptist. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, all the sins of the world were passed onto Jesus once and for all. Jesus received all the sins of the world that are yours and mine through His baptism once and for all. This is how the body of Jesus could take on all the sins of the world, and this is how it was possible for Him to face judgment as both hands and both feet were crucified on the Cross. However, this does not mean that the sin was upon His soul. You must receive your salvation by believing that Jesus came to this world and fulfilled the righteousness of God, and John the Baptist also participated in this great ministry by passing on the sins to Jesus through laying on of his hands.
John the Baptist did two things as the servant of God, the greatest representative among those who were born from a woman.
The first one was pointing out the evilness of everyone. He cried out for people to return to God by rebuking them, saying, “Serving other gods besides God is sin.” The second was that he baptized Jesus to pass on the sins of everyone in the world. This is the righteousness of God that was for you and me. This is the very righteousness that the Lord came to fulfill in this world.
Jesus came to this world to receive the sins of yours and mine and take them on. And He received baptism to take on everyone’s sins in this world, your sins, and your descendants’ sins, and their descendants’ sins, your parents sins, your ancestors’ ancestors’ sins, the sins of everyone from Adam as long as this world exists until the last day, though we do not know when the earth will cease to exist. Jesus received the baptism to blot out our sins and to cleanse us of our sins.
The word ‘to baptize’ means “to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, or to bathe.” Therefore, Jesus was baptized to take on all the sins of the world. Jesus cleansed our sins by receiving the sins through John the Baptist. Just as your clothes get washed when you wash your clothes with water, just as your filthiness gets cleansed when you take a bath with water, Jesus cleansed our sins clean by receiving baptism and took on all of the sins of our hearts through John the Baptist.
My fellow Christians, do you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? ―Yes.― Do you believe that the Lord came to this world, was baptized, and died on the Cross to fulfill the righteousness of God?
As we greet Christmas, we must remember Jesus our Lord who fulfilled the righteousness for us. It is said, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). As we greet Christmas, we must ruminate on what is truly righteous, how we can lead a life of righteousness, and believe firmly. You and I need to keep our faith in Jesus Christ in this world and return to God someday. We must live the one life we have in this world, doing righteous work. What kind of work do we need to do in front of God? We must think of righteousness once. Before we can think about whether or not we should live for the righteousness of God, we must think about what righteousness itself is first.
I am greatly thankful to God as I greet this Christmas. And I wish you would do the “righteous thing.” What kind of righteous thing can you do in front of God? Can we do any righteous thing by doing well with our flesh? Don’t even think about it. Trying to do righteous things with the flesh is like a tower built on sand that will crumble down in one moment. Even if you were good all your life, if you make one wrong move, all the humanly righteousness is shattered.
The true righteousness is spreading everyday the gospel of the water and the Spirit, with which God has wiped out all our sins. Participating in this spreading of the gospel is participating in the work of God. You and I live for the purpose of this work. Whether you work for a company or own your own business, it is righteous for you to devote yourself to this gospel of the water and the Spirit. If you cannot do it yourself, it is righteous through your prayers and small materials. Whatever you do, whether eating or drinking, living to spread this gospel is righteousness.
Fellow Christians, even though we did not go over the Bible verse by verse, you are those who generally have heard these words. I believe that you believe in these words as the Truth. Do you believe that Jesus came to this world and fulfilled all righteousness? Do you believe that the Lord has fulfilled the greatest work that wipes out all the sins, yours and mine? ―Yes.―
It is so fortunate that Jesus took on all the sins, and we are so thankful that He fulfilled ‘all righteousness.’ How lamentable would it be if He took some sins and did not take some others? However, whatever sin you have committed, Jesus took it all. Have a strong faith. I hope you please God with your faith and do righteous deeds by your faith. I hope you live by the faith. And I hope you go to Heaven by your faith. I hope you are a person without sin by your faith. I hope you are a person who receives the Holy Spirit by believing in the true gospel of the water and the Spirit.
I truly thank God again and again because I believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Fellow Christians, do you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? ―Yes.― I hope that all of you are those who truly believe in the true gospel as we greet Christmas. Hallelujah!