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Tempting, But No | Matthew 3 Part 2

Jesus is baptized by John, setting the standard we are meant to follow.

This week we wrap up Matthew 3 and start Matthew 4. Listen along to the episode here or on your favorite podcast app

[3:00] John the Baptist has been preaching and people have been listening.  They have been hearing his call to repent and he has been baptizing them.  And one day, Jesus shows up.  He wants to be baptized, too.  John immediately responds that he is the one that needs to be baptized.  I just love this.  First, I love that they are cousins.  I don’t have anything that will back up my belief that they were friends and knew each other, but I am throwing it out there.  When Jesus walked up, John knew exactly who he was.  There feels like a familiarity between them.  When Jesus asks to be baptized, John said surely not.  He doesn’t think about it, he just answers immediately.  He wanted to be baptized by Jesus.  I read that this acknowledgement is an attribute of folks who really have a relationship with the Lord.  The ability to know that even though you’ve got the Lord in your life, you want more of him.  John wanted more of what Jesus had to offer.  He wanted to level up. 

[9:09] Jesus insisted that John must be the one to be doing the baptizing, that it was to fulfill all righteousness.  This brought up so many questions in my mind.  Especially, why did Jesus need to be baptized to fulfill righteousness?  He didn’t need it.  Right?  Didn’t he already have…isn’t he the definition of righteousness?  As I googled and read it really affirmed what I have always believed about baptism.  I should warn all of you that I was raised Southern Baptist and have been baptized by full immersion.  It was a personal decision.  I currently belong to a Methodist church, and I joke with my pastor a good bit about if immersion was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me.  Am I right?  I mean I am kidding about all of this, but it does make me wonder about baptism by immersion and why all denominations don’t do it.  I do not think it has anything to do with salvation in that if you weren’t baptized or if you were only christened as an infant, you will not go to heaven.  Eternal life with Jesus does not depend on how you got wet or if you did at all.  And that is another point that should be made.  If you just “got wet” without the faith and belief of Jesus living and dying for you, that literally is just getting wet.  If Jesus is the standard we are meant to follow…how to live, obey, serve, lead, be a son, a friend shouldn’t we follow his example in this too?  Paul talks about baptism in Romans 6 and in my notes on the chapter is a quote by my aforementioned Methodist pastor, “Baptism is a mark of ownership”.  I’ve always heard it is an outward sign of an inward devotion. (John Wesley’s notes on this section of Matthew is really good.  The book I found at a thrift store I could not find on Amazon, but I have linked the closest thing they have.)

I digress.

[17:27] The baptism of Jesus affirms what John was preaching.  Return to God.  Repent.  And it also shows the ordinary people who were watching that Jesus was…one of them.  He didn’t stand in judgement like the priests and scholars.  This was the beginning of his public ministry.  Honestly, what a way to start.  As soon as his head came out of the water God spoke from heaven and Holy Spirit “descending like a dove and lighting on him”.  A sermon I heard 11 years ago gave this note, “God speaking the identity of Jesus in his own voice.”  Tony Evans says in his commentary it was a trinitarian affirmation, all three members of the Godhead inaugurating Jesus’s public ministry.  

[24:30] This moment of the divine is immediately followed by Holy Spirit leading Jesus into the desert for a time of testing.  The Passion translation says to go “through the ordeal of testing.”  He is doing all the things, covering all his bases to experience the things humans experience in their flesh.  We need to remember that he was led by the Spirit.  This is a comforting detail to cling to when you are facing trials because the Spirit was/is there.  If it is a test he is leading you into, he will sustain you. 

[26:47] Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.  Forty usually signifies a period of trials, testing, probation.  It can also refer to a generation.  We’ve seen this before:  Noah and the raining for 40 days and nights, Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, for a generation.  Fasting is used to draw closer to God, to really seek him and his counsel.  Something I learned digging into this is that Jesus was at his weakest in his humanness after these 40 days.  That is why Satan could approach him to tempt him.  It took 40 days without food to make Jesus weak enough in his flesh for Satan to even have the opportunity to try.  Just like in the Garden of Eden with Eve, Satan uses what God has said to try to distort his meaning and draw Jesus into action.  Unlike Eve, Jesus passes this test with flying colors.  Spirit was still there.  Still sustaining.  And angels were sent to minister to Jesus’s needs.  

Jesus had to be tempted.  He had to master his flesh and not sin.  He had to do this part for us.  To prove it can be done, but also to remain sinless so he could be the perfect lamb without spot on the cross.  My Bible notes say this, “A person has not shown true obedience if he or she has never had the opportunity to disobey.”  Jesus had the opportunity, but he didn’t.

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