JESUS' BAPTISM AND TEMPTATION
[Matthew:3:13-17]; [Matthew:4:1-11]; [Luke:4:14-32].
"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
The Lamb of God
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John:1:29)! With those immortal words John introduced Christ into His ministry, which ushered in the dispensation of grace.
Great throngs had gathered to hear John preach, and he had baptised many converts in the River Jordan. One day he noticed in the crowd an unusual figure. Jesus was coming to be baptised! How John's heart must have thrilled as he recognised the Son of God! John had preached to the people that One much greater than himself was to come -- and now He was here!
John did not feel that he was worthy to baptise Jesus, but at His command those two walked down into the water "to fulfil all righteousness." John always obeyed Christ because he knew He was the Son of God. As we study this lesson we learn how God proved this fact to John.
John baptised Jesus just as he had baptised everyone else, but when Jesus came up out of the water something happened that had never happened before. The Spirit of God descended on Him in the form of a dove and a Voice was heard from Heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew:3:17). You would have thought that all would have believed on Jesus when they heard the voice of God, and saw the dove; but they didn't all have honest hearts.
John was a prophet, and God had told him that the One upon Whom he saw the Spirit descending and remaining would be the Messiah. John and his disciples were there when it happened; they saw and believed. John said, "I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1: 34).
The Holy Trinity
We have a beautiful picture of the Trinity in this lesson -- the three Persons in the Godhead. God the Father spoke from Heaven to God the Son Who was coming up out of the water, while God the Holy Ghost descended on Jesus in the form of a dove. Later Jesus called the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and promised that when He went away the Comforter would come to abide with them. Jesus also called the Holy Ghost the Spirit of Truth, which would guide His followers and lead them into all truth.
The Spirit is as gentle as a dove. He will not come into an unclean heart. But if we are washed in the Blood of Jesus, we, too, can receive Him. When He comes in, we are filled with great love and joy and everything that is in the heart of Jesus. The Holy Ghost is a Person and He is one with Jesus. He occupies only a heart where Jesus is.
Forty Days of Testing
Although the Spirit had descended on Jesus, He still was not ready to begin His ministry. There was a time of temptation before Him. "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" (Hebrews:2:18).
Anyone who wants to work for God has to go through a testing time. The Lord wants to prove us to see whether or not we mean what we say when we tell Him we will "go all the way" and do anything He wants us to do.
The Spirit led Christ into the wilderness where He stayed for forty days, alone with the wild animals, and with nothing to eat. Of course He was hungry after that long fast, and Satan thought: Here is my chance. At that moment the Lord's weak point was His hunger, so the devil told Him that if He was really the Son of God He should make bread out of the stones so that He could eat. It would have been easy for Jesus to change the rocks into bread, because Jesus can do anything. But He had no intention of obeying His tempter.
The Sword of the Spirit -- the Word
The Lord showed us how to resist the devil. When Satan wanted Him to make bread, Christ quoted Scripture to him. Many hundreds of years before, Moses had told the Children of Israel that "man cloth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy:8:3). If we know the Scriptures we can answer the enemy the same way when he comes with a temptation. It is important that we study the Bible and know what promises God has made to us.
Just because Satan lost one battle with Jesus, he did not give up. He next took Him to the top of the Temple in Jerusalem and told Him to jump off the high pinnacle. He said that if Jesus was really the Son of God, His Father would not let Him get hurt. He knew David had prophesied of Jesus that the angels would bear Him up lest He dash His foot against a stone (Psalm:91:12). Jesus knew that Scripture, too; but He knew more than that. He answered again with the Word: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Still Satan wouldn't leave Jesus. Until we leave this earth, the enemy of our souls will never give up trying to turn our steps from following the Lord. But Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, and has promised to help us overcome every trial if we look to Him for aid.
Satan took Jesus into a very high mountain where they could see all the kingdoms of the world. The devil knew that many people would sell their souls to be rich and powerful, and he wanted to see if Jesus would. But it was not time for Jesus to rule a natural kingdom on earth – and, besides, when that time comes, God, not Satan, will give Him the power.
The devil had the nerve to ask Jesus to bow down and worship him. We cannot see how anybody would want to worship the devil, but there are many people in foreign countries, and even in our own country, who worship devils and build temples to them. Sometimes they even sacrifice their children to the devil. But Jesus said, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
After all those temptations Jesus was very tired -- but He had triumphed. God said when Jesus was baptised that He was pleased with His Son, but how much more pleased He must have been now when He saw that our Saviour had won great victories over the enemy. He sent down an angel to minister unto Him and strengthen Him. The Lord is pleased with His children, too, when they overcome the tempter, and He sends sweet blessings as their reward.
1. Did John feel worthy of baptising Christ?
2. Do you think that John had seen Jesus before He came to be baptised?
3. Who was He Who descended on Jesus in the form of a dove?
4. Do you think Jesus could have made bread out of stones?
5. When Jesus said, "Get thee hence, Satan . . ." we read that "the devil leaveth him." What lesson does this teach we?
6. What happens every time one follows the instructions of Satan?