WALK IN REPENTANCE – Matthew 3:1-12 ESV, Dr. Fred Fitzgerald, Teaching Team

Matthew 3:1-12

Happy New Year, thank you so much for being here today. 

Before we start let me tell you that I love you!!!

We need to pray for Pastor Colin this morning he has had a rough go of it this week, and still in hospital.

If you’re listening or reading online I thank you for doing that.

 I thank our overseas listeners and our national folks who follow us on the Internet.

If your first time visitor we thank you for being here 

We have connection cards in the seat backs in front of you 

if you’d like to fill one out there’s no obligation 

if you have any prayer needs anything whatsoever we want you to know we cherish the opportunity to pray for and with you. 

Well it is the beginning of 2023; and there will be many messages preached today about resolutions for the New Year.  

Well I believe there is one resolution we must take to heart today.

Summary: A call of repentance to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ

Matt: 3:1-12

3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 

2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord;

    make his paths straight.’”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 

5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 

8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 

9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 

10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

So let’s summarize, John is out in the wilderness preaching a message of repentance.  

People from all around are seeking out this strange prophet who dressed in a camel hair coat with a leather belt, living off locust and honey. 

I guarantee you John would have been a sight to behold.

I wonder why people were coming to see him? 

Was it his message? 

Was it his dress and diet? 

Was it because they knew he was just the beginning of something great, the opening act so to speak?

Well whatever the reason was people came from everywhere to be baptized by him.

Have you ever thought of the significance of his chosen place to baptize people? 

The Jordan river, was the same river that Joshua crossed with the Israelites when they went into the promised land. 

It was the same river that when the priest stepped in with the ark of the covenant the waters dried up until everybody had crossed over to the other side. 

It was the same river where a leader from every tribe took a stone and made an altar signifying what God had done so throughout the years they and their children would remember.

John was popular, people came to hear what he had to say and his message was loud and clear, turn from your sins, Repent. 

Renew your covenant with God. 

And I think the Jordan River was a great place to baptize those who wanted to turn from their ways and move forward in Gods way.

John was the one Isaiah was talking about when he said:

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, prepare the way, the Lord is coming.”

He may not have been dressed up but people understood what he was saying. 

They knew that he was keeping it real, not just talking like those Pharisees and Sadducees. 

As a matter of fact he was calling them out, 

“You snakes, you vipers who told you to come, who warned you of Gods coming wrath.”

He was also saying don’t just wash in this water and think that’s it, let’s see a change in your ways. 

let’s see if you can bear some real fruit, some good fruit because if you don’t God is ready to chop you down. 

God is sharpening the axe and is getting ready to chop down those unproductive trees. 


Mariam Webster definition of repentance: : the action or process of repenting especially for misdeeds or moral shortcomings

Get ready Jesus is coming and He isn’t going to just baptize you with water.

He is going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit .

Repent that’s the message John had, stop what you’re doing turn around and do what’s right.

Some may have had doubts about who he really was, wondering if he was Christ or maybe Elijah, 

but he denied being either one of them. 

And even though they may have wondered who he was, there was no doubt about his message, it was loud and clear Repent, Jesus is coming!!!!!

Few preachers talk about sin and repentance today.  

I think they worry too much about being politically correct or hurting someone’s feelings, 

but the fact is sometimes we need to be called out  — we need to realize that we aren’t perfect and we make mistakes and we could do better.

The fact is we need to examine ourselves daily because Jesus is coming and we need to be ready.

The sad truth is that the absence of guilt in today’s society makes it hard to talk about repentance. 

If people have no feelings of guilt or remorse about what they do, then the need for repentance is not going to be recognizable.

Some may think the word repentance is a word that belongs to a time long ago. 

Some see repentance as something that we do only if we get caught. 

But repentance is far more than simply blurting out “I’m Sorry”  if we get caught cheating on the IRS. 

Reminds me of a hunting story:

A hunter sees a bear and shoots at it. 

He misses, and suddenly slips and falls down the little hill he was on. 

His leg is caught in a bear trap, and the bear is coming right towards him. 

He cries out, “Lord, I know I’ve done some bad things in my life, but I promise to repent now if you make this bear a Christian!” 

The bear skids to a halt, drops to his knees, clasps his paws together and says, “O Lord, I thank you for the food I am about to receive!”

Repentance is more than just turning over a new leaf. 

Repentance is far more than just starting over again. 

Repentance is also far more than simply reciting a congregational prayer.

Repentance is not about just changing our minds, or feeling sorry for something that we have done, or even making bold resolves that we will never participate in certain conduct again.

Repentance means to turn around and go in another direction. 

Here’s what John the Baptist wanted his audience to hear: 

Stop what you’re doing and turn your life toward this one called Messiah.


Certainly Sinners need to repent especially those who are lost. 

(V5) “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River”.

Sinners make the evening news: 

Those who pose falsely as police officers, those who rape, rob, and steal. 

Those who assault and abuse others, those who peddle drugs and take advantage of teens and children.

We need to quit trying to make excuses for these people and call it what it is, people do terrible things and it’s because of sin in their lives.

Sin breaks the heart of God and destroys the lives of people we love.

But hold on a minute: 

I do not mean to offend anyone but I have to state sinners make the news, but sinners fill the pews. 

The unfaithful, the liars, the cheaters, those addicted to alcohol, gambling, or drugs.

If you are cheating, lying, stealing or doing anything else that is sinful it’s time to stop making excuses and turn and face your savior. 

Your life and the lives of others depend on it.

Sometimes the cold hard truth is we just need to repent and get in a right relationship with God.

Even the righteous need to repent. 

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “

(verse 7).

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 

Even the ones who think they are the most religious, the ones who are in the pews every Sunday; 

there are times when you need repentance too! 

We all miss the mark at times and need repentance to restore that right relationship with our savior.


First you have got to be honest with yourself; we call it keeping it real. 

When you start to feel guilt and remorse about something you’ve done or something going on in your life you have got to be honest about it. 

If you have issues that are affecting your relationship with Christ, quit making excuses 

—it’s your fault, not someone else’s.

King David had a keeping it real moment in Psalm 51:1-3 

and when he did King David cried to the Lord, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me”

Are you ready to be honest? 

Are you ready to come out of denial? 

Are you ready to start keeping it real? 

If you are then you’re ready for repentance.

After we feel all this guilt and remorse being lifted away from us after repentance then we begin renewal. 

We start to renew that relationship with our savior, we start renewing those relationships with our friends and family we begin anew with those we love.




When we get rid of sin we must put on Christ. 

Replace those bad habits with good ones.

Put off your old self and put on the new, turn from destructive to constructive.

You may even have to change your playground and your playmates.

Jesus told a story in Matthew 12 (43-45)about replacing the old with something new. 

44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 

45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

He had just cast out a demon, and the demon had to find a new home. 

So while it was wandering around the demon came upon an old residence all cleaned up but empty. 

So it goes there and takes seven friends more wickedly than him and they take up residence in the man and then he is worse off than when he started.

Its more than just cleaning house, 

you have got to fill it with something better, 

you have got to fill it with the Holy Spirit. 

If not, and truth be told, you will most likely fall back into the same old ways with a little more bad added to it.


Sometimes along with our repentance we have to make restitution in order for us to reach our full potential in Christ.

We need to look at what we have done or left undone that is causing pain and hurt for someone else. 

In our sinful state we may have hurt someone deeply and left scars on their life. 

We may have left them wounded and bleeding.  

In order for us to have a great abundance of Joy we must reconcile with these people.

We may have to say I’m sorry, or 

maybe it’s a debt, where we just need to fulfill a promise 

whatever it is in order to reach our full potential in Christ we must reach out to those we have hurt and make restitution in order to be reconciled with them.

Worship team:

I remember pray of invitation I heard years ago.

“You that do truly and earnestly repent of your sin 

and are in love and charity with your neighbors 

and intend to lead a new life following the commandments of God, 

draw near with faith and make your humble confession to Almighty God.”

My friends, John was at the Jordan River telling people “Repent, Jesus is coming”

And the message is no different today. 

And probably has even more immediate need:

“Repent the Time is near”

Fred Fitzgerald Ph.D.