John the Baptist proclaims Jesus as Israel's Messiah, God-incarnate, who will not only save Israel, but also judge Israel and separate the wicked from the righteous.
Testimony of John the Baptist
In verses 4 to 6, John the Baptist quotes Isaiah 40:3-5. Quoting these Messianic verses is like showing a trailer for a movie. The movie (verses 9 and 10 of the same passage) proclaims that God himself is coming as a victorious warrior, to deliver Israel and to reveal himself to all mankind.

In verses 7 to 9, John warns that the Abrahamic covenant is not a guarantee that individual Jews will be saved if they fail to repent. He likens individual Jews to trees that are about to be cut down if they fail to repent. Jesus gave the Jews similar warnings, for example in the Parable of the Banquet (Luke 14:15-24).

In verses 16 to 17, John proclaims that the one coming after him is more powerful than he is. Having earlier quoted Isaiah 40:3-5, the implication is that the one coming after him is none other than God himself, incarnate as Israel's Messiah. John says he will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire (v16). He then says that the winnowing fork is in his hand, and he talks about the threshing floor (v17), metaphors of judgment from Micah 4:12 and Malachi 4:1. In other words, Jesus will separate the righteous and the wicked. The righteous will be baptised with the Holy Spirit, for their blessing and salvation. The wicked will be baptised with fire, a picture of their judgment and damnation. The righteous are like wheat that will be gathered into God's storehouse. The wicked are like chaff that will be burned up in the inextinguishable fire of hell.

In verse 22, at Jesus' baptism, a voice from heaven proclaims, "You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight". This identifies Jesus with Psalm 2:7, implying both that he is the Son of God, and also the King of Israel to whom all nations must bow. God will give him the nations as his inheritance. He will break them with an iron sceptre and smash them like a pottery (Psalm 2:8-9).

John's proclamations about Jesus relate as much to what Jesus will do at his second coming, as they do to what Jesus did in his first coming. Later, when John was in prison, he became confused as to whether Jesus really was the Messiah, or whether they should expect someone else (Matthew 11:3 and Luke 7:19).
Symbols: Threshing floor of judgment, Winnowing, End-time harvest, Baptism, Fire, Axe and trees
Tags: Jesus as a mighty warrior, Jesus as God-incarnate, Jesus as the Son of God, Abrahamic covenant, Every eye will see him
The Ministry of John the Baptist
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
3 He went into all the region around the Jordan River, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
4 As it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one shouting in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be brought low, and the crooked will be made straight, and the rough ways will be made smooth,
6 and all humanity will see the salvation of God.’”
7 So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
8 Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones!
9 Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 So the crowds were asking him, “What then should we do?”
11 John answered them, “The person who has two tunics must share with the person who has none, and the person who has food must do likewise.”
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He told them, “Collect no more than you are required to.”
14 Then some soldiers also asked him, “And as for us – what should we do?” He told them, “Take money from no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your pay.”
15 While the people were filled with anticipation and they all wondered whether perhaps John could be the Christ,
16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I am is coming – I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clean out his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire.”
18 And in this way, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed good news to the people.
19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil deeds that he had done,
20 Herod added this to them all: He locked up John in prison.

The Baptism of Jesus
21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. And while he was praying, the heavens opened,
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.”

The Genealogy of Jesus
23 So Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years old. He was the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,
24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,
25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,
26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda,
27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,
29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,
30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,
31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon,
33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,
34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,
36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan,
38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.