I baptize you with water.
Here John says this is the best he can do. It’s good enough for now. What God sent him to do!
But John tells the people he isn’t the Christ. The Christ is more powerful and more worthy – He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
The reason John could only baptize with water is because the Holy Spirit isn’t something he has power to give. Only Jesus will give the gift of God Himself to mankind.
Jesus will command His followers to be baptized in water too. But only Jesus will give the accompanying gift of the Holy Spirit! The new birth of water and the Spirit!
But here John does what faithful men and women of God always do. He exalts Jesus far above himself and all others.
Not only is Jesus more worthy and powerful. He is the judge of all!
And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
We might be tempted to ask, “How is judgment good news?”
John must see final judgment in the same way David thinks of it in the Psalms. Putting right what is wrong. Bringing relief to the oppressed! Justice for the poor!
Judgment too is good news!