Matthew 3:11-12 TLB
11 “With water I baptize those who repent of their sins; but someone else is coming, far greater than I am, so great that I am not worthy to carry his shoes! He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 He will separate the chaff from the grain, burning the chaff with never-ending fire and storing away the grain.”
In these two verses JTB is still talking to the religious leaders, warning them about what is about to happen.
He tells them that someone else will soon be arriving on the scene. He’s talking about his cousin Jesus. The promised Messiah.
He talks about the differences in the two of them: how He (Jesus) is so much greater, that he (JTB) is not even worthy to untie and carry Jesus’s shoes. This was one of the duties of a slave. I’m not sure what social position was below the position of slave, but that’s where JTB felt like he belonged when he compared himself to Jesus.
Then he talks about the difference in their baptism. He reiterates that his (JTB’s) baptism is an outward symbol of what has happened on the inside: the person has repented of their sins. But he says Jesus’s baptism will be internal. He will baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Again, Jesus is in a totally different realm than JTB.
Then JTB talks about one of the tasks that Jesus was coming to earth to accomplish.
He doesn’t talk about Jesus coming to preach (which He did), or heal (which He did), or set captives free (which He did).
He’s not talking here about Jesus dying for our sins (which He did), or rising from the dead (which He did), or ascending and going back to Heaven (which He did).
What JTB mentions here is another one of the major tasks that Jesus did. But it’s not as much fun to talk about.
Jesus came to separate. He came to draw a line in the sand. Or maybe it’s better illustrated as a large circle. And He’s inside the circle inviting people to join Him there.
Regardless of whether it’s a line or a box or a circle, it’s pretty apparent in this sermon by JTB, as well as in numerous other sermons by Jesus, that the religious leaders of the day were not on Jesus’s side of the line. And JTB has already given a couple of reasons why. They weren’t living like they had ever repented of their sins. And they were depending on their rule-following family legacy to determine their eternal destiny.
And neither of those will get you inside the circle.