01 October 2013

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 3

It’s always interesting to see how God uses our families and our childhoods to prepare us for the Christian life. The same is true for the men in our lesson this week. Both John the Baptist and Jesus were born to godly parents. God used their families and their early circumstances to prepare them for their service later in life.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth like any child of that day and age. But not much is written in the Bible about the 30 “silent years” at the beginning of His life. Luke 2:52 tells us, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” He grew in wisdom in both earthly and spiritual things. And He grew in grace. He always was obedient. God’s grace kept Him from sin. Jesus also grew through temptations, which we’ll see in next week’s lesson. Jesus learned real obedience through temptations.

John the Baptist introduced the world to Jesus. John was the first prophet Israel had after 400 years of silence from God. John was a fulfillment of prophecies in the books of Isaiah and Malachi. John didn’t want the attention on him but was simply the messenger about Jesus’ coming. John understood his role and accepted it. He lived a life of self-denial. He spoke the word of God fearlessly. He prepared people’s hearts for the arrival of the King.

John’s message was to denounce the people’s sin. And he called for the people to repent of their sins or face judgment. Repentance is a changed thinking and a changed life. It’s turning from sin and turning toward God. True repentance requires seeing my sin for what it is and confessing it; having sorrow over my sin; and hating my sin enough to turn from it.

John also called the people to confess their sins to God and to submit to the symbol of baptism. Confession is agreeing with God about how sinful I am. John’s baptism was a preparation that was symbolic of the desire for a changed mind and life. John’s baptism simply introduced people to the coming King. John knew Jesus was the only one who could baptize people with the Holy Spirit. Today, we are baptized with the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation. And water baptism is an outward demonstration of the inward change of our hearts.

Jesus Himself asked John to baptize Him. Jesus didn’t need to repent and confess His sins because He was perfect and sinless. Instead, Jesus’ baptism announced His arrival as the Messiah and marked the beginning of his public ministry. Through His baptism, Jesus identified Himself with our sin and became our substitute (Isaiah 53:12). His baptism was a sign that He was consecrated to God and was approved by God for His work on earth.

Following Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit came down from heaven and remained on Him throughout His ministry, giving Him the power to heal and speak. Today when we are saved, we receive the Holy Spirit, which identifies us with Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us live a holy life for Christ. He helps us change our minds and our actions. We are anointed to serve, and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do that.

God prepared Jesus throughout His childhood. And now Jesus is entering into His public ministry to claim God’s people for Himself.

Things to Think About
  • What temptations am I facing right now? What do I want more than anything but I know it’s wrong?
  • Am I pouring out my heart to God and asking him to help me withstand these temptations?
  • How can I remove obstacles for others to hear God’s message? Am I willing to get out of the way?
  • Am I always lifting up the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ?
  • We always talk about the person we know and love the best. What is in my heart comes out of my mouth. When people are with me, are they left thinking about Jesus instead of me?
  • If the identifying mark of a true believer is a life that has repented from sin and bears fruit, what kind of fruit am I producing?