Get ready!

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.

“Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”

So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and Mary. But when he heard that the new ruler of Judea was Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. So, having been warned in a dream, he went to  the region of Galilee. Here the family settled in a town called Nazareth. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Some years later, John the Baptist began preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

John was the person whom Isaiah spoke about when he said, “There is a voice calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord! Make the paths straight for him!’”

John wore clothes of camel-hair and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People came out from Jerusalem and all Judea, and from all over the Jordan Valley to hear him. And when they had confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

But when John saw many of the Pharisees and the Sadducees coming to see him, he denounced them, saying. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance and don’t say to yourselves, ‘We’re safe because we’re descendants of Abraham.’ Let me tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones here on the ground. Even now the axe has been laid to the root of the trees. Every tree that fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but someone is coming after me who is greater than I am. I’m not worthy even to and carry his sandals. He’ll baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He’s ready now to separate the wheat from the chaff with his winnowing fork. Then he’ll clear his threshing-floor, gathering the wheat into his barn, but burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John protested, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, so why do you come to me?”

“Let it be like this for now,” said Jesus, “because we need to do all that is right.”

So John agreed to baptize him.

Following his baptism, as Jesus came out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling upon him. Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love. In him I take great pleasure.”

Matthew

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