A. JESUS’ LIFE AS A CHILD
- We don’t read much about Jesus’ growing up as a child, other than that his parents fled with Him to Egypt when Herod the king of the region in which he was born, tried to kill Him (Mat 2:13-18).
- Apart from that, it is related that Jesus, at the age of twelve, knew so much of the Bible, that in the temple He discussed the contents of it with the learned religious leaders who had studied the Scriptures, and they were amazed at His knowledge and insight. (Lk 2:41-52).
B. JESUS’ BAPTISM (MAT 3:13-17)
- At 30-years of age Jesus began with the work for which the Father had sent Him.
- John the Baptist, a blood relative of Jesus, was busy preaching in the desert of Judea and urging the people to turn from their sins. Those who did so, he baptized in water.
- By doing this he was fulfilling a prophecy of Isaiah recorded in chapter 40:3,4: A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” Just like the roads the Romans constructed on which their Caesars would ride so that they would enjoy a comfortable journey, John the Baptist had the task of making a spiritual highway for the Heavenly Prince. The way on which the Jewish spiritual leaders had led the nation, was one of hypocritical lip-service to God. John leveled this road with its potholes and rocky stumbling-blocks, by calling everyone to a genuine repentance. The kingdom that this King would bring to mankind, would consist of people in whose hearts His Kingdom would be established and to that end peoples’ hearts had to be prepared by repentance. (Naturally that did not mean that a person had to get his life in order by his own strength and then invite the Lord in, but simply that he had to acknowledge and speak out the need and desire for it.)
- It was from among these people who had come to a spiritual awakening through John’s ministry, that many would hear the call of Jesus, accept Him as Messiah and Saviour and even follow Him as fishers of men. ( Jn 1:35-43).
- The question arises why Jesus went to be baptized by John since He indeed had no sins to repent of. The answer seems to be that as man He identified Himself with mankind. Therefore He joined the queue of sinners to be baptized.
- People find it difficult to acknowledge in public to having sinned. There are also those who, on top of that, are too proud to be publicly immersed in water, that is, be baptized. It is better, however, to please God than to be honoured by people. Jesus set us the example. He laid off his outer garments and was immersed in (went under) the water. Some people even get angry when they see others being baptized for it causes them to feel guilty.
- Jesus set us the correct example and His Father honoured Him for it. When He came up out of the water, the heavens opened up and the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove and God the Father audibly declared, “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased”.
- All who were present must have been amazed and even shocked. Jesus was still unknown. He looked like any other person. The Father in heaven however knew this was His Son and acknowledged Him as such.
- His Father also sent the Holy Spirit to equip Him for the huge task He would undertake in the world, namely, to die and be raised from the grave for the salvation of sinners.
- Every step of obedience in the life of a child of God opens new doors to the unfolding of God’s plan for his life ahead. If Jesus had not taken this step, His ministry would have come to an end. Many children of God make no spiritual progress because they got stuck when they were required to take a step of obedience and did not. When they pass into eternity, they will go to meet God, but as spiritual dwarfs.
C. JESUS IS TEMPTED BY THE DEVIL (Mat 4:1-4)
- As we know, it was the devil who caused Adam and Eve to fall into sin in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, he has mankind in his power. They are his spiritual slaves and they obey him day by day, giving in to his temptations, again and again and this life of bondage to sin causes people to suffer continually.
- Jesus came to set us free, but before He could help us, He Himself needed to overcome the devil by successfully resisting all his temptations. If He had succumbed, He would have been guilty before God and would not have been in a position to take our sins on Himself and pay for them on the cross. That is the reason He was led by the Holy Spirit to a lonely place where He could be tempted by Satan.
- The place where the great battle took place, was in a desert. It was hot and dry. Also there was no one to pray for the Son of God or encourage Him. All that He had to prevent his giving in to the temptations of Satan, was His knowledge of God’s Word and the power and wisdom imparted by the Holy Spirit.
- He fasted for 40 days. This is a long time to go without food. Why did He do so? God’s people fast to separate themselves from the daily matters of life so that they can devote themselves entirely to Him. It is therefore a special means of self-sacrifice to God.
- The devil watches us and chooses a time when we are weak, or when we are having a hard time, to lead us into temptation. He waited for 40 days until Jesus was really hungry, and then launched his first attack by saying, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” This temptation was two-folded. Firstly he used Jesus’ physical need to try to persuade Him to gratify it contrary to His Father’s will. Secondly he tried to get Jesus who was fully man, to doubt the fact that He was the Only begotten Son of God. He wanted to persuade Him to prove His divinity to Himself, by performing a miracle but the Father had prepared Him when He spoke from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” He already knew this, but the Father confirmed it and therefor there was no need for Him to prove, either to Himself, or to the devil, that He was the Son of God.
- (Similarly there is no need for us to prove that we are children of God by doing all sorts of miracles or by making breathtaking sacrifices. The Lord gave us a promise in Jn. 1:12 saying: “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Having given my life to Jesus, all I need to do, is to believe God’s promise that I have thereby become a child of God. On top of that, the Holy Spirit will testify with my spirit that I am a child of God (Rom 8:16).
- Christ never performed a miracle to meet His own needs, but only to bless others. He also never performed a miracle without first receiving from the Holy Spirit the revelation that His Father was doing it in heaven. So the devil tried to get Jesus to go so far as to do something that would be against the will of God. If He had done so, He would have sinned. That would have been the end of His ministry, and we would have been eternally lost because there would have been no way for us to be forgiven for our sins. How did Jesus manage to overcome these temptations? He did not rely on His own wisdom, but answered using the words written in the Bible, namely: “It is written: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” The devil knew that it was the truth and did not try to tempt Him further on that point.
- In this He was an example to some Christian leaders that use human wisdom when preaching, instead of taking their messages from the Word of God.
- The devil did not leave Jesus in peace after this defeat, but changed his strategy and approached Him from another angle.
- One would think the devil would have feared to go into Jerusalem, because it was the holy city of God, or that he would be scared of the temple since God was present in the holy of holies. But satan is not afraid of places that we would regard with reverence. He enters churches where the Gospel is being preached and distracts the attention of the listeners so that they are present only in body but not the spirit; their minds being busy with other matters. He also casts doubts into their minds so that they start speculating whether to believe what they are hearing or not. This causes God’s Word to be wasted on them. One of his favourite temptations is to get members to criticize and even to hate one another. In that way he succeeds in breaking the unity so that everyone goes his own way.
- Here we see how he takes Jesus to the highest point of the temple and suggests to Him to jump down. He even uses a portion of Scripture to persuade Him to do so, saying: “If you are the Son of God, jump off! It is written ‘He will give His angels charge of you, and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’.” This is written in Ps. 91:11&12. Jesus knew this passage and He also knew that His Father would protect Him from all kinds of danger, but He knew more, He also knew that a person must not put himself in danger on purpose and then expect God to protect him. Again He answered the devil’s temptation by quoting the Word of God, this time from Deut 6:16.
- Why did the devil dare the Lord to prove that He was the Son of God? He knew that it was very important for Jesus that the people should believe that He was the Son of God whom the Father had sent to save mankind from their sin. If people would believe in Him, they would be saved, but if they would not believe in Him they would be lost and Jesus’ coming into the world would have been in vain. So, the devil continued to taunt Him: “Go ahead and prove yourself, prove yourself. If you jump off from here, the angels will rush to save you and ensure you land safely on the ground. All the people who see this miracle, will then believe in you.” The devil can come with many good arguments. This was a good argument, but Jesus did not try to reply to it with man’s wisdom. Again He answered him with the words of His Father. He had peace in His heart that during His ministry the Father would find enough opportunity to prove that He was the Son of God – the Saviour of the world.
- The devil usually tries to force us to do something in a hurry. He tries to convince us that this is the only opportunity we will have of obtaining such and such a bargain, or to to avail ourselves of such a golden opportunity, and if we don’t make use of it, we will never have such a chance again. Let us always be careful and make sure that we have heard well what God wants of us, because many decisions cannot be reversed. If you jump off the roof of the temple, you could not, halfway down on seeing the ground rush up to meet you, decide you made a mistake and move back onto the roof. There are so many people who have ruined their lives forever. They lie in the dust, totally broken. Others look at them and say: “Shame, look at what happened to him.” Jesus however passed the test and so the devil had to think up another temptation.
- In the next temptation, he told a lie for he is a liar and the father of all lies. He showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and tried to persuade Him that he had the right to give them to Him. He had indeed gained entrance into this world which God created when he brought Adam and Eve to a fall, but he never became the owner of it. If someone steals my car, he may drive around pretending it to be his, but he never becomes the owner of it and does not have the right to sell it. Satan was therefor trading in stolen goods. All things seen and unseen, belong to God, and He can give it to whomsoever He wills.
- The devil was tempting Jesus in a very cunning way. He was saying, “There is no need for you to die such a terrible death on a cross. If you just bow down and worship me, you can have the whole world free of charge. Look, I am offering you an easy way out!” But if Jesus had accepted his offer and bowed down to him, He would have given up His own authority and have fallen into the power of the devil and lost all ability to redeem mankind and creation.
- Oh, and how Satan longs to be worshiped. He will lead us into temptation to do all kinds of sin, but most of all he wants us to worship him. It is the ugly pride in his heart that desires worship. See how Jesus answers him: “You must worship the Lord your God, and Him only you must serve.”
- The truth of God’s Word is so much more powerful than any lie the devil can conceive. After three defeats, the devil’s courage was broken and so He fled away like a bleeding, wounded man flees from the battle ground .
- By now 40 days of intense suffering left Jesus weak and hungry and so His Father Who had witnessed the battle from beginning to end, sent His angels to serve and strengthen His beloved Son. How did they serve Him? Possibly by providing Him with food as they had done with Elijah when he was hunted down by Jezebel. God’s eyes are on His children when they are tempted, and He will send relief at the right moment. See what is written in 1Cor 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
- As children of God we can take heart and know that the Lord knows our weaknesses and He will never allow us to be tempted beyond our strength to resist. Jesus gloriously overcame the temptations and so can you and I if we, in full surrender, put our trust in the Lord.
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