Reading For Friday Matthew 3:1-4:17

Matthew moves quickly through the background, birth, and where Jesus lived to John the Baptist. John emerges preaching the gospel of the kingdom and calling his hearers to repentance. John's ministry was the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied before the coming of the Lord. John’s appearance is rough and certainly not fashionable, but people listened to his message, and many repented and were baptized in the Jordan. John did not mince words when he described the religious leaders as "a brood of vipers" for whom the judgment of God was prepared. He explained that the one coming would "baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire." 

After this introduction to the last of the prophets, Jesus then comes to John for baptism. John recognizes Jesus authority and mission, and he wants to resist this request. However, Jesus says that his baptism will fulfill righteousness and John submits and baptizes Jesus. As Jesus comes up from the water, the three persons of the Godhead are made manifest in this significant moment of the anointing of Jesus. A voice speaks from heaven. It is the voice of the Father who is in heaven while the Son is on earth. Jesus is already the Son of this Father not by adoption but begotten and the same in nature. The Father expresses his delight in all that the Son does. The Spirit of God descends like a dove to rest on Jesus. And now, Jesus, who will impart the Spirit to others, receives the Holy Spirit himself in a fresh anointing that marks both the commencement of his public ministry and the Father’s equipping of Jesus for that ministry. Condescension, love and grace combine at this moment as Jesus, the God-man, clothes dripping while standing in Jordan, receives the blessing from on high. 

The pattern of Jesus is the movement from humiliation to exaltation. The meta version being his incarnation to restored glory at the right hand of the Father. But here, is a lesser movement as Jesus moves from the heights of baptism and blessing into the wilderness and temptation. The same Spirit, who anointed him now, leads him into the wilderness to be tempted. The fasting for forty days and forty nights is yet another link to the past. However, there are deeper associations and pictures here. Sin entered the world through temptation in a garden. Adam failed the test, and sin proceeded to all men. Here, Jesus is tempted in a wilderness, but he will succeed where Adam fell, and will bring salvation into human experience. The reality of the temptation in the wilderness is not diminished by the fact that Jesus has no sin and cannot sin. Jesus felt its full force and resisted until the tempter withdrew from him. Do not miss that Jesus’ resource for confronting these assaults is the Word of God and when the fallen angel, namely Satan departs, other angels arrive to minister to him.

Upon hearing that John the Baptist had been arrested, Jesus withdrew to Galilee and made his home in Capernaum. This change in location was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and another reference in particular to the prophet Isaiah. This section concludes with Jesus preaching the same sermon as John the Baptist and calling people to repentance and announcing that the kingdom of heaven had broken through and was at hand. At this point, the public ministry of Jesus begins in earnest. 

Things To Consider:

  • Why is repentance so important to John the Baptist and Jesus?  
  • Where does repentance start?  
  • Why do you think John spoke so harshly to the religious leaders?  
  • Why was necessary for Jesus to be baptized?  
  • Why is this story significant in our understanding of the Trinity?  
  • How is salvation rooted in our understanding of the Trinity?  
  • How does Jesus victory in the wilderness inform the way we should fight temptation?  
  • Why is the Bible essential in fighting sin? (Hint: All sin is rooted in a lie)