"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Why did Jesus, who had no sin (Hebrews 4:15), come to be baptized by John who was baptizing with water for repentance from sin? Jesus gives us the answer in verse 15, "...it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness."
What does it mean to fulfill righteousness? Paul gives us that answer in Romans 6:16, "...obedience leads to righteousness." Jesus was baptized by John in obedience to His Father (John 14:31). Jesus identifies with the sinfulness of mankind and leads every individual to acknowledge his/her sin by repenting of it. Jesus gives us an example to follow.
When Jesus came up out of the water after being baptized by John, the Holy Spirit of God descended on Him as a dove. Jesus was fully human and fully God. The Apostle Paul instructs us that Jesus humbled Himself by becoming a man who could be tempted in all ways as we are, yet, not sin (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus completed His earthly ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit as an example to all believers. John was a witness that the Spirit of God had descended upon Him. God the Father also spoke for all to hear, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased."
What life lessons can we learn from this passage of scripture?
Questions for reflection:
If you said yes to Jesus God is saying to you, "This is my beloved child with whom I am well-pleased."
"In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'"
4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Let us look deeper at the message John the Baptist came preaching as he prepared the way for Jesus. We will walk through this verse by verse.
The message starts out with the announcement of "the Kingdom of Heaven." The primary meaning of kingdom is "the sovereign rule of a king." The rule of heaven or God was coming to be established on earth.
God is a 'just' King and must punish sin. God's justice is the most misunderstood characteristic of God. Love without justice on the school ground would let every bully have his way. The teacher would love the bully but not punish him, that is, bring him to justice. That is not real love.
John called the people to repentance. Repent means to "change the way you think." John called the people to change the way they thought about sin. Sin is not doing what God says or doing what He says not to do.
If God began to rule, He would need to punish sin because He is a just King. Because God loves people He sent John to warn the people and call them to repent of their sin, to turn away from sin. Check this out, God had prepared and announced John's job 700 hundred years earlier.
Many received John's message. John was out in the wilderness and drew a crowd of people who believed what he was preaching, repented of their sins and were baptized as a public testimony of their repentance.
When John saw the religious leaders of the day, Pharisees and Sadducees, had come out to see what he was doing, he called them vipers. Why? The Pharisees and Sadducees claimed to have the truth but didn't live the Scriptures they proclaimed. Instead of leading the people to life, they led them to death, just like a viper's bite is deadly.
John asks the Pharisees and Sadducees if they are fleeing from the wrath to come. What is wrath? Wrath is the justice of God that must be satisfied by a penalty. The penalty for sin is death, not mere cessation of life, but eternal torment (see Luke 16:19-31).
God knows that beliefs are revealed by actions. He had John call people to prove their repentance by their fruit (lifestyle). If a person continues in sinful behavior and attitude after repenting, there was no real repentance. The truly repentant person will be really trying to change their attitude and actions. Mere talk with no attempt to change will not save a person from the penalty of sin, the Lake of Fire (see Revelation 21:8).
John was called to prepare the way for Jesus and distinguishes his assignment and power from that of Jesus. John came to baptize people with water for repentance, to make people aware of their sin and to be prepared to listen to Jesus, who came to save the people from their sin (Matthew 1:21). Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
The Holy Spirit is God. God comes to live in us when we believe in Jesus (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit teaches us the truth and enables us to live it. Jesus also baptizes with fire. Fire is judgment. The judgment for sin is the Lake of Fire, eternal torment (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 21:8).
What are we to do with what we have learned?
Questions for reflection:
Begin by reading Matthew 2:1-23
What lessons can we learn from this passage of Scripture?
How does God want us to daily live?
How are you daily living?
What changes do you need to make in your life when you compare how you are living with how the Lord desires you to live? If changes are needed, then begin immediately to make them by faith. As we attempt to live out God's will by faith, He will make it happen by His power (Galatians 2:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:11).
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel"
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus."
Do you believe what you just read? If yes, you can trust God no matter what. He will do what He promises to do! God will do a miracle if needed to accomplish His will, to fulfill His word (Matthew 1:18,22-23).
Look at what God did for Joseph. In the midst of his confusion, uncertainty and hurt Joseph was going to do what he felt was the right thing to do. Yet, it was not what God wanted for Joseph and Mary and their new baby boy. God will speak to us to keep us from going a wrong direction if we are truly trying to do His will (Matthew 1:19-21).
Joseph did what God said for him to do. We are to obey what the Lord teaches right away. Joseph went forward with the wedding and did not have sexual relations with his wife until after Jesus was born (Matthew 1:24-25).
Jesus' mission was mapped out while He was in the womb. He saves His people from their sin. Each of us has a God-given assignment. We need to ask the Lord what it is and be doing it daily (Matthew 1:21).
Questions for reflection:
To read Matthew 1-18 click here. The Genealogy of Jesus Christ.
"18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit."
The Lord is fulfilling a promise He made to Abraham (in 2091 BC when Abraham was 75 years old) at this time and a promise He made to King David who ruled over the nation Israel from 1010-970 BC. The genealogy given in Matthew 1:2-16 starts at Abraham, goes through David and ends with Jesus, the promised offspring to bless the nations and the promised son to rule over Israel forever (see Genesis 12:1-3,7; Galatians 3:16; 2 Samuel 7:12-14).
This genealogy differs from that found in Luke 3:23-38. Why? Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus as Matthew 1:18 tells us. He was a descendant of David through David's son Solomon. However, Mary was a descendant of David through his son Nathan and Jesus was the biological offspring of Mary (see Luke 1:26-38). The line couldn't go through Solomon because God declared that Jehoiakim would never have a son that ruled over Israel (see Jeremiah 22:30; 36:30-31).
What can we learn from this passage of Scripture?
As we read about God's promises to provide our spiritual, emotional, material and eternal needs, we know God will keep His promises. We know the Bible is not a book of myths, but an accurate record of what God has done in history, miracles and all. We know we have an important assignment to complete in our generation.
Questions for reflection:
"Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Notice the promises that the LORD spoke to Abram (later named Abraham, "father of many nations" Genesis 17:5). God promised to lead him to a new land and make him into a great nation.
Abraham was 75 years old at the time of this promise. The year was 2166 BC. The people of Israel became a nation in 1446 BC, entered the land promised to Abraham in 1406 BC and became a great nation under King David in 1010-970 BC. It is interesting to note that Abraham only saw one grandson, Jacob, before he died. Jacob had the 12 sons who became the great nation, Israel, ruled by King David.
God promised Abraham would be a blessing to all the families (people groups) on the earth. This promise began to be filled when Jesus was born, completed His earthly ministry, died on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended back to the throne of God as Ruler over heaven and earth. It is through Jesus Christ that all families (people groups) will be blessed.
Jesus' last commission was for His disciples to make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father, son, and Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything He commanded them (Matthew 28:19-20). He taught that those who hear God's word and obey it are blessed (Luke 11:28). As His disciples do what He commissioned them to do, all families on earth will be blessed. Jesus is the seed (offspring) of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). The second promise God gave to Abraham recorded in Genesis 12:3 is still being fulfilled today.
What lessons can we learn from Abraham?
Abraham saw one grandson in his earthly life, but he will see all nations on earth blessed because he trusted God and obeyed Him. The best is yet to come. Keep living for Jesus by being like Christ and doing what He teaches us in the Bible.
Questions for reflection:
Genesis 10:1-32; 11:10-26
Read Genesis 10:1-32 and Genesis 11:10-26. Chapter 10 of Genesis gives us the historical record of how Noah’s sons populated the earth after the flood. The year the flood was over is 1657 A.C. (After Creation) or 2460 B.C. (if Abraham was born 2166 B.C.).
The Lord has given us the historical times of when He made man and each of the significant events that follow. It takes some digging through the text of Scripture and archeological dating to put it all together. The amazing thing is that Noah and Adam’s grandson Seth overlap by 84 years and Noah and Abraham overlap by 57 years.
The information of the pre-flood years was easily passed on accurately after the flood by natural means and we know that God made sure the record was accurate (we know it was accurate by the resurrection of Jesus Christ as stated in John 2:18-22).
We are to take the written history of the Bible instead of the historical account of people when a discrepancy arises. Why? Jesus validated the Scriptures as true by rising from the dead just as He said He would. He validated the scriptures from Abel (Genesis) to Zechariah (Chronicles) in Luke 11:51. Genesis was the first book of the Hebrew order of Scriptures and Chronicles the last. Jesus validated the historical record of Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:1-6. The Bible is true and accurate from beginning to the end.
We have an accurate historical record of God’s works among the people He created.
Genesis tells us how everything began very good and was then ruined by sin entering the world. Genesis tells us how God will remedy the sin problem. The New Testament is the historical account of God saving His people from their sin. Also, the teaching account of how we can live overcoming sin, and how God will one day judge those who have not been pardoned from their sin.
A day of judgment is coming. We need to prepare by receiving pardon from our sins by repenting of our sins and by believing Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead on the third day and is Lord over all. Do you believe this? If not, you will experience the penalty of sin, eternal torment in the Lake of Fire.
If you do believe and put your trust in Jesus you are pardoned and are forgiven of all your sins. You are empowered to live free from slavery to sin. You are commissioned to take the message of salvation available in Christ to your family, friends, neighbors, fellow employees, and all people in your sphere of influence and beyond.
This is good news for everyone who receives it. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life starting now.
Do you believe?
Questions for reflection:
"Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth."
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech."
8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth."
God created Adam and Eve with the knowledge of a language. Everyone learned the same language from birth. As the earth was repopulated after the flood the people were still learning the same language used by Adam and Eve.
The people were also very intelligent and easily shared their learning with one another. God said of them that whatever they proposed to do they would be able to do. This would be okay if sin were not involved.
However, sin was involved. Sin is leaving God out of the picture. When God is left out of the picture sin ruins and destroys people, creatures, and all creation (Romans 8:19-21).
The people did not want to obey God and fill the whole earth. They wanted to stay in one place. This is merely a symptom of mankind’s sin which is rebellion against God.
God opposes those who are prideful (independent of God) but gives grace to the humble (those who depend upon God), James 4:6. God opposed the people building a tower to the heavens by confusing their language. Separate languages were given to various groups of people and they were scattered throughout the earth.
If you are depending on yourself alone, you need to repent of your sin and begin to depend upon the Lord Jesus Christ. If you do not depend upon the Lord alone you will find a “babel” type experience in your life. Maybe to already have?
Questions for reflection:
"The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. 20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned, backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers." 26 He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant." 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died."
We are reminded that the earth was populated again by Noah’s family and sin was still at work in mankind. Noah got drunk on wine and his son Ham disrespected him while he was drunk. The result was Ham’s son Canaan being cursed by his grandfather, Noah. Many generations were affected by Noah’s sin of drunkenness.
What can we learn from this historical account?
1 Peter 3:8-12, "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
Questions for reflection:
"Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." 12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17 God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."
God made a covenant with Noah, his sons and all living creatures that He would never again judge the world with a flood that destroys all the people and creatures on the earth. He gave the rainbow as the sign of His promise. Whenever we see a rainbow we are reminded of God’s faithfulness to His promise.
God has made a covenant with people who believe Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, rose again from the dead on the third day and is Lord over all. He promised that all who believe in Jesus death, resurrection and lordship will never die. In John 11:25-26 Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" Everyone who believes receives the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of God’s promise (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Do you believe in Jesus? When you believe God's promise is a guarantee that you will never die. By 'die' it means the second death in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8). If you believe you will experience eternal life (John 3:16) with God forever starting now.
God is faithful to keep all His promises.
Questions for reflection: