God’s Sinless Son
Explore the Bible Series
September 9, 2007
Background Passage: Matthew 3:1-4:25
Lesson Passage: Matthew 3:13-17; 4:1-11
stated last week, the Gospels are not biographies of Jesus, in the modern sense
of the term, and the lesson for this week reinforces that claim. Matthew Two ends with Jesus and his family
The Gospels, as I see it, have three fundamental aims. They are:
By claiming that the Gospels did not aim for “biography”, I do not intend to question the historical nature of their writings. In my judgment, the Gospel authors were good historians. Luke, in particular, clearly stated the historical nature of his research and writing (See The Gospel of Luke 1:1-4), and the other writers give evidence of careful research of eyewitness accounts of the events and teachings of Jesus. The two central stories in our lesson, Jesus’ baptism and the temptation in the wilderness, highlight the humanity of Jesus and his gracious identification with sinners. Also, as you study, please note the evidences of his deity as reflected in the stories.
I. The Appearance and Preaching of John (3:1-17)
A. Abruptly, John the Baptist appears in Matthew’s narrative. Perhaps the jarring transition in the text intends to capture something of John’s appearance, like a clap of thunder, on the scene. The prophetic voice was still for almost four hundred years; then, suddenly, John appeared, crying in the wilderness.
striking message (vv. 1-3): For centuries, the prophets had predicted the
restoration of the people of God and the reestablishment of the Davidic
Covenant. No doubt,
physical appearance and initial popularity (vv. 4-6): John wore a hair shirt
and a leather belt. These striking images are reminiscent of the description of
the Prophet Elijah (See II Kings 1:8), and First Century Jews could not have missed
this symbolic behavior. News of John’s
preaching spread quickly, and the crowds amassed along the banks of the
3. John’s confrontation with the Pharisees and Sadducees (vv. 7-12): Along with the great crowds, members of the two important religious leadership groups, Pharisees and Sadducees, came to participate in the enthusiastic, popular response. John, however, saw through their apparent repentance, and he abruptly confronted them. They, John pointed out, had not brought forth fruit fitting of repentance; rather, they counted on their physical descent from Abraham to relate them properly to God. Their unfounded confidence, John said, would be cut down, like an unwanted tree, and cast into the fire.
4. John’s promise to the repentant (vv. 11-12): The Baptist understood that his baptism was secondary to and preparatory for baptism in the Holy Spirit, a baptism that only the Messiah could initiate. John promised that Jesus would baptize the penitent in the Holy Spirit and fire. This fire purifies the righteous and consumes the wicked.
B. The baptism of Jesus (vv.13-17)
reluctance (vv. 13-15): Understandably, John initially recoiled from baptizing
Jesus. His humility and awareness of the
identity of Jesus made John reticent to baptize Jesus, but the Lord assured
John that this baptism fulfilled the righteousness of God. This action, in my judgment, inaugurated the
2. the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the Father (vv. 16-17): As Jesus emerged from the water, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove (this may mean that the holy came in the form of a dove; or, it could mean that he descended in the way a dove would). Then, the people heard a voice from heaven that affirmed the Father’s approval of the person and character of the Son.
II. The Initiation of Jesus’ Ministry (4:1-25)
A. The temptation in the wilderness (vv. 1-11): All three Synoptic Gospels record this event (Matthew and Luke give greater detail than Mark). After forty days of prayer and fasting, Satan tempted Jesus in three ways (Matthew and Luke recorded the temptations in different order).
1. “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”: First, Satan tempted Jesus in regard to the Lord’s physical needs. Jesus answered the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.
you are the Son of God, throw yourself down” (from the pinnacle of the
3. “All of these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus rebuked Satan by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13.
centralization f Jesus’ ministry in
call of the fishermen (vv. 18-22): Matthew recorded the call of Jesus’ first
disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. These men lived in
Questions for Discussion:
1. What evidences do you see, in this text, for the humanity of Jesus? His deity?
did Jesus insist that John baptize him in the
3. What do you think Jesus meant when he told his disciples he would make them fishers of men?
4. How did Jesus meet the temptations of Satan? What insight do you gain from observing Jesus’ method for resisting Satan’s assault?