And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
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I. HISTORICALLY. Jesus, as his name indicated, came to be a Savior; but he came to bring a very different salvation from that which was expected of him. His contemporaries were not aware that they themselves were in any need of salvation. They supposed it was their political condition which needed to undergo a change. They were full of a fatal self-sufficiency so far as their own character was concerned; they esteemed themselves the prime favorites of Heaven, and thought that, when the great Deliverer appeared, it would be entirely on their behalf, in order that they might be restored to their rightful place and assume the government they believed themselves so worthy to conduct. If they were to receive, with any cordiality of welcome, a Savior who came to save them, to deliver them from guilt, it was necessary that a voice should be heard speaking in plainest tones breaking through the hard crust of complacency and delusion, working conviction of guilt within the soul; it behoved that he should come "preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Thus did John "prepare the way" for Jesus - the apostle of repentance for the Savior of mankind.
II. EXPERIMENTALLY. That which was the historical order is also the order in our heart's experience. We repent of sin before we know the Savior so as to possess his full salvation. It is indeed true that the Words of Jesus Christ, the view of his holy life, the consideration of his dying love - that this is a power working, and working mightily, for repentance on the soul; yet must there be repentance, as an existing condition of mind, for a true and full appreciation of the great service Jesus Christ offers to render to us. We cannot rejoice in him as in our Divine Savior, redeeming us from the penalty and the curse of sin, until we have known and felt our own unworthiness and wrong-doing.
1. This is the scriptural doctrine. Our Lord, before he left his apostles, instructed them to preach "repentance and remission of sins in his:Name among all nations" (Luke 24:47). Peter said, "Repent... for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Paul testified to Jews and Greeks "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). John wrote, as he doubtless preached," If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves... if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteoushess" (1 John 1:8, 9).
2. This is the obvious spiritual order. For how can we make our appeal to Christ, how can we put our trust in him as in our Divine Redeemer and the Propitiation for our sins, until we have recognized in ourselves the sinners that we are? For this there is necessary;
(1) The idea of sin - in many hearts, in many places, found to be wholly wanting, and having to be planted there.
(2) The sense of sin - absent from a great many more; absent, it may be, because it is forgotten that our guiltiness before God is not only nor chiefly found in doing what he has forbidden, but in withholding what he has desired and required of us, in the non-payment of the "ten thousand talents" of reverence and gratitude and service we owe him.
(3) Shame for sin, and a strong and deep desire to be cleansed from its evil stain. This true penitence brings us in eagerness and hope to the feet and to the cross of the Divine Savior. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;