Matthew 3:1-6
Mat 3:1 (KJB)
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
Approximately thirty years separates the events of Chapter 2 and 3. (Luke 3:1-2 KJV) Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, {2} Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. This is speaking about the time that Jesus was still living in Nazareth in the region of Galilee. John at this point would have been in the desert region between the Judean mountain range and the dead sea. This was also the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken of by MalachI about 450 years beforehand. (Mal 4:5-6 KJV) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: {6} And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Jesus later identifies that John was the fulfillment of this prophecy. (Mat 11:13-14 KJV) For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. {14} And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. His ministry was very brief but an important part of fulfilled prophecy. John was also the earthly cousin of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 1:13 KJV) But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
Mat 3:2 (KJB)
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The ministry of John was a ministry of repentance from sin. The word “repentance” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of “a change of one’s mind.” However, many claim it is a prerequisite for salvation and that is not true. True repentance comes from God. (2 Tim 2:25 KJV) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; Once God saves a person, repentance, that is, a change of the mind comes with it. We no longer view sin the same way, instead we view sin as sin and not “fun.” We look at righteousness and holiness in a different light. The Kingdom of Heaven being at hand is speaking about the fact that in three years, the Lord Jesus Christ will go to the cross and then 50 days later the Holy Spirit will be given and that will begin the Kingdom of God on earth. (Luke 17:21 KJV) Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. This is not speaking of any type of mythical thousand year reign of Christ but is speaking of salvation. When one receives salvation, the Kingdom of God is living within them. (Acts 19:3-4 KJV) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. {4} Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. There were many people who had heard the ministry of John and had repented physically of their sins but were not saved. The Apostle Paul had met with some of these people and gave them the true way of salvation and then they became saved.
Mat 3:3 (KJB)
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
This was also a fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah of about 750 years before. (Isa 40:3 KJV) The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. John was the one who fulfilled because he had cried out with the gospel of repentance and introduction in fulfillment of Isaiah. If we look at Isaiah 40:9, we will see a much clearer picture of the enunciation. (Isa 40:9 KJV) O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Here is a straight declaration of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ who would be coming to Judah.
Mat 3:4 (KJB)
And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
John had not only the inward witness of being a prophet but he also had the outward appearance. He had his raiment of camel’s hair. (Zec 13:4 KJV) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive: John wore the rough garment not to deceive but to bring the truth of the coming Messiah. Then John had on the same type of leather girdle that Elijah wore. (2 Ki 1:8 KJV) And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite. His diet was one of locusts and wild honey. Locusts were permissible to eat under the law. (Lev 11:22 KJV) Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. The locusts were also eaten by the very poor and the wild honey would be found in trees and even in the dried river beds. The Locust was called the Great Eastern locust. They were not just grabbed off of plants and eaten but were prepared and then roasted over a fire. The fact that locusts were also a food of the poor, it showed the poverty and simple life of John the Baptist.
Mat 3:5 (KJB)
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
John was beginning to draw crowds to his baptizing and preaching. People from all over the area had come to hear him and inquire of him. They were coming from Jerusalem, and all of Judaea which meant that there would have been many people gathering. The entire region surrounding the Jordan also came and that could have meant people were coming from all the way up from the Sea of Galilee all the way down to the Dead Sea. This meant that John was now beginning to draw crowds.
Mat 3:6 (KJB)
And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
John’s ministry was to be the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ and that is why he was baptizing with water and the teachings of repentance. People were confessing their sins. This confession was a verbal confession according to the word in the Greek. In other words, they were confessing their sins out loud so others would hear it. For John, baptism was the outward sign of confession of sin. He would not baptize unless there was a confession of sin to go along with it.