Matthew does not waste any words flattering John. John does not waste any words flattering the pharisees. His simple message is, "Flee the wrath to come." Would anyone today stick around for that message? Was it a better message then than it would be today?
"This is my beloved son in whom I am well-pleased." What would those words have meant to Jesus, or to any son, on the eve of his great trial in the wilderness? Was that phrase the subject of some of the spiritual meditation that he did in those 40 days? Did his being approved by God have anything to do with his eagerness to resist the enemy of God? What if I believed God accepted me, would that make any difference in my willingness to resist His enemy? Is resistance to temptation strengthened more by the knowledge of approval or by the hope that one can earn approval if he resists?