This is an outline of the notes that I use to teach my Wednesday evening class on the sayings and the life of Jesus. Feel free to join us at 6:15pm, beginning September 11.
The Heart of the Lesson is the fact that at age 12 Jesus becomes aware of His calling to be concerned with “His Father’s business.” As an adult Jesus takes on this mission by identifying with sinners, by experiencing baptism, and overcoming temptation.
Key Memory Verse for Today: “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” — Matthew 4:4
Key Term for Today: Test. The word tempt often has a bad image, but the original word meant testing. Important characters are tested in the Bible, like Abraham. A man was not great until he has been tested. Temptation can be seen not as the temptation to sin but to avoid sin.
Jesus’ Pre-existence: John 1:1, this helps us see that Jesus existed long before entering a middle class Palestinian family.
Jesus’ Birth: Luke 2: The gospels tell us about His miraculous birth, but nearly nothing about His childhood and youth.
Jesus’ Boyhood: Luke 2:40-52. What do we learn about his family in Luke 2:42?
- There were three festivals that Jews were required to attend: Passover, Pentecost, Booths.
- Women were not required to go, but Mary did; this goes toward our understanding her devotion to God.
- The caravan: probably for traveling protection, extended family.
- “Three days of searching” (Luke 2:46)? Perhaps there was one day each for discovering, returning and finding the missing boy.
- Age 12 (Luke 2:42) the age of manhood: Jesus was sitting with the leaders of the temple (Luke 2:46-47).
- Then came the parental question: “Why have you done this to us?” (Luke 2:48). Jesus responds that He would be, “in my Father’s house,” which can also be understood as “about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49 KJV). This emphasizes the mission.
- “My Father” is not the customary “our Father.” Even in His boyhood, Jesus seemed to demonstrate a personal closeness to God. Mary uses the phrase “your father and I” (Luke 2:48) which is a reference to Joseph. Jesus is respectful of His earthly father, but He is aware of the unique relationship He has with the Father.
- Referring to the genealogies, it was more important for Jesus to be understood as the Son of God than to be a son of David. He would repeatedly disappoint those expecting a military Messiah to defeat their enemies. He would never disappoint those who could see Him as the Son of God.
Mary’s perspective: She really did not understand her son, or she saw evidence that He is who she knew Him to be.
- Remember Luke 2:21-38. Mary had plenty of opportunities to treasure and ponder all of these things in her heart (Luke 2:51, see also 2:19).
- The gap in Jesus’ life is covered in Luke 2:52.
- The non-canonical infancy narratives (about AD 100-150) attempted to explain this silent period: these are not inspired Scripture. (Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of James).
Jesus’ Nature: Was He born like an adult and only play-acting the role as a child? Hebrews 5:8 – The writer says that He learned obedience. He was the Son of God yet fully human. Real human beings grow and develop, get tired, hungry and thirsty. He grew from a helpless and dependent infant into an adult who was changed on the inside as well as the outside.
Fulfill All Righteousness: Key teaching of the NT, Jesus was fully human yet sinless. The God-Man.
- So, why submit to the ritual of baptism when it was the public acknowledgment of repenting from sins? Matthew 3:13-17 – while it did not seem appropriate, Jesus insisted – Matthew 3:15.
- Main point is that Jesus identified with us, the sinless choosing to experience what the sinner must go through. Perhaps He was dedicating His life to God and His mission.
- Certainly Jesus identified with John’s movement of repentance, and turning back to God. Jews did not employ baptism for other Jews, it was for Jewish converts, symbolizing their cleansing from sin. It is as if God had leveled the playing field by promoting baptism of repentance for all people.
Jesus’ Ministry: What prompted Jesus to begin His ministry? At John’s call, maybe He sensed the spiritual time was right, and to begin something new. Baptism symbolized the washing away of sin, but also it symbolized death; the old self was drowned, to rise up in new life.
Jesus’ Without Sin: What does it mean that Jesus was sinless?
- All His life He submitted His own will to the will of the Father. At the time of the baptism, did Jesus know He was sinless?
- Perhaps the temptations to follow will answer this question. Notice the Father gave full approval to the Son’s action.
- Matthew 3:17 – the Father is well pleased.
- Psalm 2:7 – refers to the enthronement of Israel’s king.
- Isaiah 42:1 – refers to the suffering servant.
- Psalm 2:8 – is the response Satan gives to the temptation to have power over the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:9).
The Dove: This is the visible sign, the descent of the Spirit on Jesus, as a dove.
- This is reminiscent of Joel 2:28. The baptism could have been the Father’s seal of approval, and the seal was the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus was marked with a mission and given the power to bring it into being.
- “Heaven was opened” – literally “torn open,” which is the same word as the torn veil in the temple. In Jesus, the barrier between heaven and earth was removed.
- “Beloved” – applies to an only child.
The Tests: God approves of the Son’s mission: remember that where God is at work, Satan is also at work.
- Matthew 4:1 – Satan seeks to nip this mission in the bud, he saw the divine plan.
- After the baptism, Mark 1:12 says the Spirit “drove” or “impelled” Jesus into the desert. The same word is used when Jesus drove demons out of people. The Spirit did not drive Him out to see Him fail the test, but so Jesus would emerge a more determined spiritual warrior (1 John 3:8).
- This was no spiritual retreat to be alone with the Father; it was a desolate place, infested with beasts and demons.
- Jesus would be doing what Adam and Eve did, to face temptation. Rather than in a garden, it was the wilderness. Jesus was tempted while He was weak and alone, unlike Adam and Eve. Satan comes at us when we are at our weakest, too.
- Hebrews 2:18 – He suffered when He was tempted.
- Hebrews 4:15 – Tempted in every way, yet without sin.
Bread From Stones – Matthew 4:2-4, “If You are the Son of God” was a taunt rather than a doubt; Satan knew exactly who Jesus was.
- “Fasting 40 days” was a reminder of Israel wandering in the wilderness. A time of testing for them (spiritually/morally). For the most part the children of Israel failed, unlike Jesus. Moses and Elijah both encountered God in the wilderness.
- “Man does not live by bread alone” is from Deuteronomy 8:3. In context, it is the episode of the daily manna (Deuteronomy 8:1-6). All three responses are from Deuteronomy.
- All three are temptations to power. Resistance comes through God’s Word. Jesus was relying on His upbringing, using Scripture when facing a difficult situation.
- Was this a providing of bread for His own needs? People expected the Messiah to prepare a banquet for all the Jews. Jesus knew that feeding the people would be a bribe, gaining followers with material goods. Check out what happened in John 6:10-11, 15. There is a warning in John 6:26-27 – Same response as to Satan, “man does not live by bread alone.” Jesus was no social reformer bent on eliminating hunger and poverty; that was not ultimately His mission.
Testing God – Matthew 4:5-7: Throw Yourself from the temple – quoting Psalm 91:11-12 to back him up.
- Here is proof that speaking Scripture is no indication one one’s spiritual condition. Satan knows the Bible; familiarity with it is no assurance of salvation.
- Jesus’ response referred to the Exodus. The people wanted water, and Moses warned them not to test God (Exodus 17:1-7). Moses reminds them of the time they tested God (Deuteronomy 6:16).
- Many people asked Jesus for a sign, to do some dazzling miracle to prove Himself. Israelites in the wilderness saw miracles all the time and they did not have great faith.
- The Romans had charlatans referring to themselves as the “sons of god” so Satan tempted Jesus to be a miracle worker, and give the people what they expect. They expected miraculous wonders, but they got the perfect sacrifice for their sin.
Earthly Power – Matthew 4:8-11: Humans are attracted to and worship power.
- Jesus was not the Messiah they wanted. Power vs. self-sacrifice. Throne of power vs. a Galilean carpenter.
- The temptation here is not necessarily just to worship Satan, but to worship political power. Satan says to Him, be the Messiah they expect. Political hopes are based on regime change, but even in the Maccabean dynasty they became wealthy and corrupt. Nations get the politicians they deserve.
- Jesus taught that political regime change meant nothing, but a heart change was everything.
Satan’s Dominion: Luke’s account (Luke 4:6) mentions the inhabited world was given over to Satan, who is the Prince of this world – Colossians 1:13, Ephesians 2:2. Jesus does accept the gift; now is the time for judgment on this world (John 12:31). God reminds us there can be no comprising with the enemy (1 John 3:8). A laughable choice – serve God or serve the devil. It’s like Bob Dylan, You Gotta Serve Somebody.
Epilogue: Satan was not finished with Jesus. Luke 4:13 mentions he left Jesus until an opportune time. They will meet again. For now, Jesus passes the great test. He was the obedient Son of God. He did what Adam had failed to do, He withstood temptation.
Next Week – “The Harvest is Plentiful” and the calling of disciples, and more.