“I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”(Luke 3:16-17)

Luke introduced the account of Jesus’ ministry with a description of His forerunner or prophet, John the Baptist. His message was that God was about to intervene in the world after years of silence, about to create a new and permanent covenant, to do away with the Mosaic system of sacrifices. No longer will He accept sacrifices and offerings. He desires a changed life, a new heart, humble repentance. 

John preached a sobering message about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. The Messiah was going to reward the righteous but punish the wicked, so it was time to repent and submit to the Lord God. The public affirmation of repentance was proclaimed by John’s baptism, which indicated that one has died to self and the old ways, a total change of life. Repentance would be marked by the fruit of righteousness as well as active caring concern for the poor and oppressed.

John’s Baptism of repentance served as the sign of a person’s dedication to God, commitment to righteousness, and a new life. When Jesus came to be baptized He was marking the start of His ministry. He had no need to repent for He had no sin. He came to identify with us, to show He was a man just like us, one who was completely obedient to His Father. And yet the appearance of the Holy Spirit and the voice from heaven indicate to us that He has a unique relationship with God, He is the Son of God: He is God. We who have entered His Kingdom by faith, belong to Him and must serve Him with our whole being. And we will have such joy over our redemption in Him that we will tell others about the salvation that is found in Him alone.