Faith Risk: Going Public (Matthew 3)



Sometimes it is risky to go public.


A small business that is profitable but seeking to further grow may decide to “go public” as an initial public offering (IPO) trading company in effort to raise more funding. IPO takes place when the small business’ equity is sold through an investment banking firm where the shares are turned into common stock and can be publicly sold and traded.

IPO can benefit in having more access to funding because of the purchased shares and public recognition. Further, it can attract high qualified employees by offering stock options.

However, IPO’s are expensive and risky. Typically less than 1000 businesses a year are successful at going public.[1]



Sometimes a guy and girl have been dating privately but they have not gone public. The reasons could be varied in that they may just have a casual relationship or there may be complexities of telling others due to work related or other issues. Further, relationships can go even more public by announcing an engagement or wedding plans.

In times past, people used to announce their engagement in local newspapers. These days it happens on Facebook – “relationship status: engaged/married”. Recently, one of the young ladies who was in a youth ministry that I served in came to visit my wife and I. She wanted to introduce us to her boyfriend and fiancée. She said she did not want to post it publicly on Facebook until we knew first. What an honor and joy to hear in person!

Married partners wear a public symbol stating their wedding day vows. The wedding ring is an outward sign telling everyone else of the couples love and commitment to each other. In fact, this imagery is so strong that when couples are in unhealthy conflict, sometimes one of the persons may remove wearing of the ring as a statement of their dissatisfaction.


Public symbols matter.

Today we are going to participate in at least 2 public symbols that testify to our faith in Jesus Christ. These are not just symbols but are ordinances or commands given to us by the Lord Jesus.


The first is the Lord’s Supper. The second is baptism. We will begin by examining baptism in Matthew 3 to understand the important meaning for why we participate in baptism.


EXAMINE     Matthew 3:1-17

Baptism is more than religious ritual (3:4-10)

John the baptizer was a prophet whom God sent to “prepare the way” for the Messiah – Jesus. John prepared the way by proclaiming the message of repentance and the coming kingdom of heaven (3:2; 4:17). During John’s preaching many people were moved by his message and became one of his disciples.

A disciple is a learner or follower. John’s disciples sought to be baptized. Specifically, 3:7 tells us that the Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to baptism.

The word Pharisee means “separated one’s”. Members of this religious group were strict on the laws as they separated from others who did not follow God’s laws. They created new laws to help them follow old laws and they isolated themselves from the culture around them in hopes of not breaking any laws. However, the problem with this perspective was they could not separate from their own hearts. Our human problem is our own sinful heart which we cannot remove and live. We need new hearts.

The Sadducees were another religious group but on the opposite end of the spectrum. They were more rationalistic and liberal on God’s laws. They did not believe in the supernatural and sought to get everything they could out of the present life; they did not believe in the resurrection (Acts 23:8). However, their problem was that they left no room for God to be God. They considered human power and wisdom to be primary but they failed to recognize God right before their eyes in Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, both groups saw John’s baptism as a religious ritual to perform (Mat 3:7). John wanted to warn them that his baptism was not for ritual but for repentance.

“You brood of vipers!” John said this to indicate that they were evil snakes. Religious hypocrisy is one of the most dangerous evils in this world.

“Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. ” John asked this question to remind them that the action of baptism had to be more than ritual or it would not matter. External actions without inward commitment is empty.

“do not presume to say, ‘We have Abraham as our father’” John was pointing out that God only has children by grace through faith, just like Abraham. If you have faith just like Abraham you are one of Abraham’s children. However, you cannot consider yourself linked to Abraham by just being part of the family – God has no grandchildren.

This is why covenant infant baptism is incomplete. Each person must come to God on their own by faith, not based on their family history.

Religiously Committed?

  • Are you just going through religious rituals and routines?
    • Why are you here today?
      • If you are here for a music style you are here for the wrong reason.
      • If here for to hear a sermon then here for wrong reason.
      • If here to promote your soap box topics, networks, and discussions then wrong reason.
      • If here to please a friend or family member then wrong reason.
      • Worship is about God.
    • Is your faith more than a Sunday event and experience?
    • Are you growing from repentance – bearing fruit in keeping with repentance?

Religiously Curious?

  • God has so much more for you beyond this moment. But you have to give Him this moment to discover what’s next. Too many of us want future blessing without the Blesser. Start with God.


Baptism is a symbol of the Lord of your life (3:11-12).

John understood that his baptism was prepatory for the Messiah. His baptism was a sign of repentance but there would be a future baptism that would be a sign of God’s Spirit.

John recognized Jesus’ Lordship with his humble worship. One of lowliest jobs was that of a servant who removed sandals and washed feet (cf. John 13). “He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.”

  • How much more for us to humbly serve today!?! When Christian’s are not serving they are not reflecting Christ’s Lordship.

Romans 6:3-13 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

John recognized Jesus’ Lordship that will define eternal destinies. “He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing… and gather the wheat… but the chaff will burn with unquenchable fire.”


  • Worship in obedience matters today. Do not put off until tomorrow what God has called you to today.


Baptism sends us to Jesus (Matt 3:13-17).

Jesus came to be baptized by John. However, John kept trying to prevent (imperfect verb – continuous action) this realizing Jesus should be baptizing him, not the opposite. John knew that his baptism was for repentance and Jesus had no sin to confess or repent. Yet, Jesus said it was fitting to fulfill all righteousness.

Jesus came to identify with humanity. He came as a substitute to live the righteous life required of humanity and then to die the death deserving of all unrighteousness.

Jesus’ death is pictured in His baptism, and likewise His resurrection is as well in coming up from the water with heavens opened, Spirit descending and the Divine voice speaking.


  • Jesus willingly took your place. This is love.
    • Fitting: Jesus is sufficient.
    • Fulfilling: Jesus fulfilled prophecy and atoned all payment for sin.
  • Jesus’ baptism marks readiness to go public for ministry and mission.
    • Your baptism is the first step of obedience in the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20)
    • Your baptism marks your readiness to go public for ministry and mission. Make Disciples.



  • Jesus’ birth & life was public.
  • Jesus was baptized
  • Jesus’ ministry was public.
  • Jesus’ death was public.
  • Jesus’ resurrection was public.


The Christian’s faith is personal but never private. No such thing as private, incognito Christianity.


Your participation in baptism and communion says that you are publicly reflecting the Christian faith in an accurate manner.


Romans 6:2 How can we who died to sin still live in it?


  • Is there sin to repent?


  • Is there action to obey – fruit to grow?


  • Is there truth to apply?


  • You are set free. The gospel gives you pardon from sin and power over sin.



Lord’s Supper



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