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John the Baptist Preaches

(Chapter 3, verses 1-6)

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       (1) About three decades later, but in the same era, John the Baptist preached in the Judean desert, (2) saying: "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has approached." (3) John is the one Isaiah talked about when he said: "Listen up! Someone is calling out in the desert, ‘Make ready the pathway of Yehowah, all you people! Straighten out His routes.'" (4) John was a sight to behold. He wore clothes made out of camel's hair and had a leather belt that fit around his waist and part of his lower torso. He ate protein-rich insect locusts dipped in wild honey. (5) Despite his appearance, everybody came to see John; people from Jerusalem and the rest of Judea and all the surrounding country of the Jordan. (6) They listened to him, confessed their sins against the Mosaic Law, and were baptized in the Jordan River.

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John Criticizes the Pharisees and Sadducees

(Chapter 3, verses 7-12)

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       (7) When he saw the pompous Pharisees and the self-important Sadducees coming to the baptism, he said to them: "You children of poisonous snakes, who told you that escape was possible from the coming wrath? (8) Don't just say you repent. Prove it by your actions! (9) And, please, don't fool yourselves by saying, ‘We're royalty since Abraham, God's special friend, is our father.' I'm here to tell you that God can make children of Abraham out of anyone, or anything-even these lifeless rocks! (10) Even as we speak, the ax is lying at the root of fruitless trees. Every tree, therefore, that does not produce fine fruit is chopped down and turned into firewood. (11) Because of your repen­tance, I use water to baptize all of you. But the coming One is stronger than me. I'm not worthy to remove the dirty sandals off his dusty feet. He'll baptize you with holy spirit accompanied by fire instead of water! (12) [He's serious in his work.] He has winnowing shovel in hand and will completely clean his threshing floor and will collect his wheat into the storehouse. But the chaff he will burn with inextinguishable fire."

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John Baptizes Jesus

(Chapter 3, verses 13-17)

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       (13) [Speaking of the One coming after John], Jesus traveled from Galilee to the Jordan River to John, so that John could baptize him. (14) But John felt too unworthy to baptize Jesus, saying: "Shouldn't this be the other way around? I need to be baptized by you, and here you are coming to me?" (15) Jesus said: "We'll make an exception in this case. Let it happen this way for it suits all that is righteous." John understood and stopped protesting. (16) After his baptism Jesus quickly came up from the water. Look there in the sky! The clouds of heaven parted and he saw God's spirit coming down upon him in the form of a dove. (17) Look again! Also there was a voice from the heavens that said: "This is my beloved Son! He has my full approval and complete support."