Verse for the Week: “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I … He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11
Study Reference for Small Groups: Matthew 3:1-12
One of my favorite theater productions is titled “Godspell.” The play depicted the life and parables of Jesus. The opening song featured the lyrics from the scripture from Matthew 3:3. “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand! Prepare the way of the Lord!” John the Baptist came down the center aisle singing that phrase over and over while holding a bucket and a water soaked sponge and flinging water onto people! It was supposed to be comical and I remember thinking, “what if that’s how we were baptized … someone running by flinging water at us?” What if you were on FIRE? Would someone run past you and squirt water at you from a water bottle? Yet when you read Matthew 3:1-12 it speaks of baptism by fire! What a crazy thought! Water should put out the fire and yet John says Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Baptism by water is the outward sign of what God has done inside you! It’s a way to show others that you have been born again, that something has happened to you, that you are “on fire” for god! When you are baptized you are submerged in water, covered completely and then raised up out of the water to represent new life. Baptism is exciting because it ignites a fire inside us to spread the news of Jesus! It doesn’t put out the fire, instead it stokes the flames. The fire that John the Baptist was speaking of is a holy fire meant to purify and cleanse us. Sometimes I have to take a step back and really ask myself am I as passionate and on fire for Jesus as I should be? Am I willing to face the Pharisees as John the Baptist did and stand up for what and who I believe in? Do you have a desire to let God set you on fire for him and his mission? Have you ever been baptized by water? Seek to discover how you fit into what God is doing and how he can use you knowing that he has great things in store for you this week!
Have you ever thought about baptism and fire in the way it’s described by John the Baptist?
When you read the description of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:4 he seems like a bit of a loner or “hippie” and yet the people followed him and came from all over to be baptized by him. It was a revival of sorts. John the Baptist was on fire for Jesus. He was lined up with the mission to spread the news of Jesus and baptize people. Could you be excited about something like this happening in your area and do you think it would set you on fire?
What are some ways you can be like John the Baptist and prepare the way of the Lord? Is he calling you to minister to someone in your circle about how Jesus set you on fire?