John Baptizes Jesus

“This is what should be done,” Jesus said. “We must do all that God requires of us.” So John consented and baptized him. (Matthew 3:15 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: p. 33
In Your Bible: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23a

Little is known about the childhood of Jesus or his cousin, John the Baptist. His message was a call for repentance and confession of man’s sin.

John’s Ministry

John the Baptist knew Jesus was from God. Jesus went to where John was baptizing. When Jesus stepped into the water, John objected saying, ”I should be baptized by you. Why are you coming to me?” “This is what should be done,” Jesus said. “We must do all that God requires of us.” So John consented and baptized him (Eyewitness Matthew 3:14,15).

John the Baptist explained the baptism of repentance is critical to serving God. Prior to that a Jew did ceremonial washing as purification. John the Baptist asked the Jews to submit to baptism. Previously baptism was required only of Gentile converts. But with baptism, John added the need for confession to God, for a cleansed life. * Those who heard understood. Shocking but they got it right!

God Affirms Jesus

When Jesus comes out of the water, he looked skyward and prayed. Then the Holy Spirit like a dove descended on Jesus. God said, “You are my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with you” (Eyewitness Luke 3:22). You are My son, is from Psalm 2:7 which is a verse every Jew knew as the description of the Messiah. Whom I love (or in whom my soul delights) is from Isaiah 42:1.

Jesus' Baptism

Jesus’ Baptism

After this, Jesus began his public ministry. He was empowered by the Holy Spirit and in continuous communication with his Father.

Prayer: Father, thank you for hearing me.

Questions: Why do you think Jesus needed to be baptized?

* The Gospel of Mark, Daily Study Bible Series, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, pp. 13,14.

Photo courtesy of Dunatos777 via flikr

John the Baptist

Long ago, the prophet Isaiah referred to John when he wrote: Listen! Someone is shouting, “Clear a path in the wilderness, for the Lord our God is coming. Fill the valleys and flatten the mountains. Straighten the curves and smooth the rough places. The glory of the Lord will appear for all to see. It will surely come to pass” (Luke 3:4-6 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3 (pp. 31,32)
In your Bible: Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3

Jesus’ famous cousin, came from the wilderness of Judea and settled near the Jordan River. He was John (the Baptist), who eagerly awaited the Messiah. He spoke a strong message for the need for repentance to all who would hear.
IMG_0219 Often people are recognized by what they wear, what they say or how they say it. That’s truly the case of the prophets of God. They wore unusual garments, were often loners, and fearlessly brought God’s message to the people whether the they wanted to hear it or not! People came from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and the Jordan valley to see and hear John. They confessed their sins and were baptized in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:5,6 Eyewitness).

There is a beautiful synagogue prayer which runs, “Cause us to return O Father unto thy law; draw us near, O King, unto thy service; bring us back in perfect repentance unto thy presence. Blessed art thou O Lord, who delights in repentance.” [Emphasis mine]. John was fully within the tradition of his people when he demanded that his hearers must bring fruit to show their repentance. But that repentance had to be shown in a real change of life.**

The Demand – Repent

  • Turn from evil thoughts and deeds
  • Live for God

The Promise – Benefit

  • Brings disorder to order
  • Enables man to see truth – God’s Truth

The people asked, “What more they should do?” John gave this guideline as a start:

  • If you have two garments, give one to the poor”
  • “Share your food with people who are starving”
  • “Do not collect any more taxes than the government requires”
  • “(Soldiers) be content with your pay, never extort money or make false accusations” (Luke 3:11-14 Eyewitness)

Prayer: Father, thank you for granting forgiveness from sin. I want to repent and change from my sinful ways. You are so patient with me.

Questions: John, the forerunner of Jesus, preached about repentance. Why do we come to Jesus to spent and ask for forgiveness? What Scriptures show God forgives those who sincerely repent and change their ways?

* Photo from Jesus His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey 1977, p31.
** The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, William Barclay, Revised Edition, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1958, pp. 53,54.

Jesus in Nazareth

“Get up,” the angel said [to Joseph in a dream]. “Herod will kill search for the child [Jesus] to kill him. Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother, and stay there until I tell you to return.” While it was still night, Joseph Jot up, took the child and his mother and left for Egypt. This fulfilled Hosea’s prophecy: I called my son out of Egypt (Matthew 2:13,14 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: Matthew 2 and Luke 2 (Eyewitness pp. 29,30)
In your Bible: Matthew 2 and Luke 2

 

After the wondrous occasion of Jesus’ birth, God led this family to Egypt for safety. A few months before Jesus’ birth, a son was born to Zachariah and Elizabeth. He became Jesus’ famous cousin called John the Baptist.

Jesus in Nazareth

When King Herod died, Joseph took Mary back to a place called Nazareth in the hills of Israel. That fulfilled what the prophets had written. He will be called a Nazarene Matthew 3:23b Eyewitness).

Little is known about Jesus when he was young. This simple Scritpure sums it up! The child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was upon him (Luke 2:40 Eyewitness).

Jesus Did Grow Up Differently

  • He had greater understanding of the human heart from the start – whereas other children are weak and have little understanding early on
  • He was strong in the Spirit of God
  • He was filled with wisdom – whereas most children concentrate on play
  • Everything he did was wise and wisely said (beyond his years)
  • He was obedient to his parents

Mary didn’t fully understand Jesus and all of his sayings. But she kept them in her heart and later the Sprit would show her.

Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding us Jesus was different, wise, aware, obedient, strong in the spirit, and wonderfully compassionate. Amazing You, You are.

Questions: What comes to your mind when you think of Jesus as he grew up? Would you ever believe he argued with his siblings?

 

Angels Announce the Messiah

He [Simeon] turned to Mary and said, “This child will cause the rise and fall of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God that many people will oppose. As he reveals the thoughts of many hearts and pierces our own soul like a sword” (Luke 2:34,35 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: Luke 2:1-35, Eyewitness p. 25,26
In your Bible: Luke 2:1-35

Old Testament and New Testament prophets foretell the appearance of Jesus the Christ – the Messiah. It’s an amazing story, we’ve read and heard. But understand, at the announcement it’s not just an angelic chorus, it’s a multitude of angels singing. That’s a whole lot of angels singing praises to God.

Angels Visit Everywhere

  • Gabriel visits Zechariah to announce that his childless wife would have a baby
  • Gabriel visits Mary to assure her she was favored of God and would (though a virgin) bear a son – Jesus
  • An angel visits Joseph to comfort him and tell him to marry his betrothed – Mary
  • An angel tells the shepherds the Messiah is born
  • A multitude of angels glorify God at this news

Shepherds HearThis announcement by Gabriel astounds the shepherds. That night, [of Jesus birth] in a nearby field, shepherds watching their flocks were terrified when an angel appeared in a brilliant light. “Do not be afraid,” the angel said. My good news will bring great joy to everyone. Today in the city of David, a savior has been born, the anointed Messiah” (Luke 2:8-10 Eyewitness).

Suddenly a host of angels appeared, praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men (Luke 2:13,14 Eyewitness).

Shepherds Tell Everyone

The shepherds went to Bethlehem to find the baby the angels had revealed to them. After seeing the baby, the shepherds told everyone what had happened. All who heard the story [of the heavenly angels, announcements and choir singing] were amazed (Luke 2:17,18).

The importance of these visitations by angels of God struck a new note with me. (1) They came at God’s appointed time and (2) FEAR was the first reaction by everyone present. Everyone who saw the glory of God felt awesome fear. What a blessing for mankind. Ponder this! Selah.

Prayer: Father, thank you for a host of angels who brought the words of encouragement. They still bless us today.

Questions: What new insights come to you as you read this passage of Scripture? Put yourself in the sandals of the shepherds and those who saw the Messiah in the manger. Can you grasp the joy and glory God reveals in birth of this baby?

* Photo courtesy of 1st-art-gallery.com Fred Morgan

Gabriel’s Next Visit

New to this weekly blog? I’m using Frank Ball’s biblical account titled – Eyewitness, The Life of Christ Told in One Story. If you wish to follow, push the ribbon at the bottom of the page.

“I am God’s servant,” Mary said, ”Let all you have said happen to me according to his will” Luke 1:38 Eyewitness.

Eyewitness: Psalms 132:11; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38, pp. 20-22.
In your Bible: Psalms 132:11; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-56.

The ancestry of Joseph and Mary is important and recorded briefly in Matthew and Luke. It assures the reader these were people chosen by God. You’ve read and heard about the miracle of Jesus’ birth. I also want to emphasize:

  • The angel’s greetings
  • The recipients’ comments
  • The joy of hearing this wonderful but mysterious news

Gabriel Visits Mary

Gabriel visits Mary with a shocking message. He assures her not to be afraid about what he is about to tell her. “Greetings, favored woman!” The angel said, “God is with you. You will become pregnant with a son. You must name him Jesus” (Luke 1:28 and 31 Eyewitness). Of course, Mary was deeply shaken by this.

Nothing is Impossible with God

“How is this possible, Mary asked? “ (Luke 1:34 Eyewitness). Gabriel told Mary it would happen this way, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35a Eyewitness).

The angel affirmed, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37 Eyewitness). She questioned Gabriel on this for sure. But she relented. “I am God’s servant,” Mary said, ”Let all you have said happen to me according to his will” (Luke 1:38 Eyewitness).

After the angel’s visit, Mary went to see Elizabeth in Judea. Elizabeth said, “You are blessed because you believed every word God has spoken will come to pass” (Luke 1:45 Eyewitness). Mary continued to exclaim the wonder of God’s doing (in what is called Mary’s Song) …”His mercy reaches to all who fear him” (Luke 1:50 Eyewitness).

Prayer: Father, thank you still speak to people today.

Questions: How has God spoken to you? Have you questioned God? Should believers question God?