The third week of Advent focuses very heavily upon the repentance and baptism message of John the Baptist. It was very exciting to translate Matthew, Mark, and Luke all telling the same thing but with slightly different tellings. There are so many hermeneutical things which could be addressed in these passages–from the conclusion of the Olivet Discourse to the conversations about John in Matthew 11–these are theological rich texts. For now, it is enough to translate them into what I hope is clear English.
And following on he traveled according to his custom to the Mountain of Olives. The disciples followed him. It was at this place that he said to them, “Pray that you yourselves do not go into temptation.” Then he separated himself from them, about a stones throw, and bending his knee he prayed saying, “Father, if you wish, take this cup from me. But, it is not my will but instead yours that must happen.” And he saw angels from heaven strengthening him. But, being in agony he prayed, straining so earnestly that his sweat was as clots of blood falling upon the ground. He rose up from prayer and came to his disciples. He found them sleeping from the sorrow. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up, pray, so that you do not go into temptation.”
While he was saying this, behold a crowd appeared and with them the one called Judas, who was drawing near to kiss him. Then Jesus said to him, “Judas, you betray the son of man with a kiss?” Then, seeing what was happening, those near him said, “Lord, shall we strike with swords?” Someone among them struck the servant of the chief priests and sliced off his right ear. Jesus answered, “Stop! Enough,” he said. He touched the ear healing him. Then Jesus said to those coming upon him; chief priests, soldiers of the temple and elders, “Am I a bandit that you come after me with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple and you did not seize me, but now is your hour, in the power of darkness.”
Then they arrested him, led him and brought him into the house of the chief priest. Peter followed at a distance. Now a fire lit up the middle of the palace courtyard and people were together sitting there. Peter sat in their midst. But a female slave who was sitting near the light saw him and stared at him, said “You are one of those with him.” Peter denied it saying, “I do not know him, woman.” After a short time others seing him said, “You are one of them.” Peter again said, “I am not.” And as an hour or so passed on another one of those insisted saying, “It is true that you were with him, for he is a Galilean.” Then Peter said, “Man, I know not what you say.” Immediately as he was saying it the rooster crowed. The Lord himself turned, looked straight at Peter and Peter remembered the words of the Lord, how he said to him that, “Before the rooster crows today you will deny me three times.” He went out weeping bitterly.
Those men in charge ridiculed and beat him. Blindfolding him they asked him, “Prophesy! Who is it striking you?” And many other blasphemies they said to him. As it became day, the elders of the people, chief priests, and the scribes gathered together and they led him to the Sanhedrin. They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe. But if I should ask, you would not answer. From now it is ‘The son of man sitting at the right hand of the power of God.”
Genesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ, son of God. Just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my angel before your face so as to build your road; a voice in the wilderness crying out, ‘You prepare the road of the Lord. You make straight his path.” John, the one baptizing, came preaching a baptism of repentance in forgiveness of sins. And all the Judean countryside and all those living in Jerusalem went out to him confessing their sins and being baptized by him in the Jordan river.
John was wearing camel hair clothes and girdled with leather around his waist and eating locust and honey. He preached saying, “One is coming after me stronger than me, who I am not worthy to stoop loosing the thongs of his sandals. I baptize you myself in water, but he will baptize you in Holy Spirit.”
Now in those days John, the one baptizing, appeared preaching out in the wilderness of Judea saying “You repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” For this is spoken of through Isaiah the prophet saying, “A voice in the wilderness crying out, ‘You prepare the road of the Lord. You make straight his path.”
Now this man John had on clothes of camel’s hair, girdled with leather around his waist, and his food was locust and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem and all Judea went out to him as well as all the surrounding countryside and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins. And behold, the Pharisees and Sadducees were approaching near to his baptism spot when he said to them, “Offspring of serpents! Who suggested that you flee from the coming wrath? Therefore you do fruit worthy of repentance. And, do not even think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as father,’ for I say to you God is able to raise up children of Abraham from these stones. The axe is already now at the root of the tree to fell it. Therefore, every tree that does not do good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you myself in water for repentance, but behind me one is coming who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am unworthy to carry. He will baptize you in Holy Spirit and fire. The winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clean his threshing floor and gather his grain into the barn, and the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.”
Now John heard from prison the works of Christ by means of sending his disciples. They said to him (Jesus), “Are you the one coming or should we look for another?” Jesus answered them saying, “When you go back to John report the things you hear and see: Blind recovering sight, lame walking, lepers being cleansed, deaf hearing, dead raised up, and poor people evangelized. Blessed are those who are not scandalized over me.”
Now as those departed Jesus began to speak to them about John. “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by wind? And who did you come out to see? A man having been clothed in luxury? Behold, those wearing luxurious clothes are in the homes of kings. But who did you come out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and the greatest of prophets. That place where it is written, ‘Behold, I myself will send my angel before you, who will construct your road before you,’ is about him. Truly I say to you no one has arisen born of women greater than John, the one baptizing. But a least person in the kingdom of heaven is greater than him.”
Now in the fifteenth year of the hegemony of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate was governing Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee and Philip his brother was tetrarch of Iturea and that region of Trachonitus, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene. Under the chief priests Annas and Caiphas, the word of God came upon John, son of Zachariah in the wilderness. He went out into all the surrounding countryside of Judea preaching baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. Just as it is written in the book of sayings of Isaiah the prophet, “A voice in the wilderness crying out, ‘You prepare the road of the Lord. You make straight his path. Every ravine will be filled in and all mountains and hills will be leveled, and it the crooked places straight and the rough places in the road smooth. And all flesh will see the salvation of God.” Therefore he said to the crowd coming out to be baptized by him, “Offspring of serpents! Who suggested that you flee from the coming wrath? Therefore, you do fruit worthy of repentance and do not even start saying to yourselves ‘We have Abraham as father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise children of Abraham from these stones.” Already now the axe is pointed toward the root of the tree. Therefore, every tree not doing good fruit will be cut down and thrown into fire.”