In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 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. 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. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:1-6
Again we are seeing more fulfillment of prophecy, John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the Messenger of The Messiah. “A voice of the one calling in the Wilderness, to prepare the way for The Lord” (Isaiah 40) John is the messenger for Jesus, to prepare Israel for the coming of the Christ.
So how did John the Baptist prepare everyone for Jesus? By a strong message of repentance and baptism “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” John is telling Israel, get ready the Christ has come, turn away from your sins, confess your sins to God, and be cleansed. Of course preaching a strong message of repentance goes either way, either people are pricked to the heart to turn to God or people harden their hearts and reject God
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Matthew 3:7-10
The New Covenant is coming through Christ, John begins by calling out the false religious system and its leaders. “O generation of Vipers” , John addressed the religious leaders, “Who has warned you for the wrath to come”? Many believed they were saved just because they were descendants of Abraham, but salvation comes only through Jesus Christ alone!
The ax is laid at the root, meaning judgment is coming, those who don’t produce good fruit, those who are not Born Again, will be chopped down and thrown in the eternal Hell fire. Obviously John the Baptist never sugar coated his message, He was here for one reason , to announce the Messiah and lead people to Christ.
Even today, the message must remain the same “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” , Jesus is coming back again soon, those who remain dead in their sin will not inherit eternal life, Amen!