Luke 3:3-6. And he came into all the country about Jordan He made his first public appearance in the wilderness of Judea, Matthew 3:1; that is, in the uncultivated and thinly-inhabited parts of the hill-country round Hebron, where his father dwelt; Luke 1:39-40; but after his fame was spread abroad, and many came to him, he left Judea and passed over Jordan, residing chiefly at Bethabara, for the conveniency of baptizing, John 1:28; John 10:40. He travelled, however, through all that country; preaching the baptism of repentance That is, calling sinners of all descriptions to repentance, and admitting the penitent to the baptism of water as an outward or visible sign, or emblem of the free and full remission of all their sins. In other words, he enjoined the penitent to be baptized, as a testimony, on their part, of the sincerity of their repentance, and on the part of John, who administered this ordinance by the commandment of God, as a seal or token that their sins were remitted. As it is written in the book of Esaias, The voice of one crying, &c. See the notes on Isaiah 40:3-5. The evangelist, by citing this prophecy, as accomplished in the Baptist’s preaching, shows us its true meaning. Isaiah, by expressions taken from the custom of kings, who commonly have the roads through which they pass prepared for them, signified that the Messiah’s forerunner was to prepare his way, by intimating that the institutions of Moses were to be relinquished as the means of salvation, and by exhorting the people to repentance and amendment of life. Matthew tells us, that John enforced his exhortations to repentance from the consideration that the Messiah’s kingdom was at hand; the kingdom of heaven, foretold by Daniel the prophet, the new dispensation of religion, wherein all ceremonial observances were to be abolished, and nothing but repentance, partly flowing from, and partly followed by, faith in the Messiah, and producing sincere obedience, would avail toward the pardon of sin, acceptance with God, and the enjoyment of eternal life. According to Luke, the argument whereby John enforced his exhortations to repentance was, that sinners would thereby obtain the remission of their sins. The two evangelists, therefore, being compared, show, that the great and distinguishing privilege of the new dispensation is, that therein pardon is promised to, and conferred on, penitents who believe in Jesus, and that the kingdom of God, including righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, (Romans 14:17,) is set up in their hearts and governs their lives. Every valley shall be filled, &c. Of these metaphors, which are plainly taken from the making of roads, the meaning is, that the Messiah’s forerunner, by preaching the doctrine of repentance, and thereby affecting men’s minds with remorse and shame for their past conduct, and producing amendment of life, should be instrumental in effecting such a change in the hearts and lives of the Jews, that many of them should acknowledge, receive, and become subject to the Messiah, when he appeared. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God After such a preparation of the way as is now described, mankind shall behold, not a splendid temporal monarch, accompanied with a magnificent retinue, but the author of that salvation which God has prepared before the face of all people. Luke 2:30-31; see notes on Matthew 3:3.
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