Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 4:12-25

bibleLast time, we looked at the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus overcame every temptation using the Word of God to refute and resist the Devil. Afterward, we saw Jesus being ministered to by the angels.

Remember that upon being baptized by John the Baptist, God the Father testified of His Son before the people in an audible voice and God the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. We know that the Holy Spirit then sent Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted… and that temptation picks up in the texts after 40 days. Today, we pick up the Gospel According to Matthew in verse 12. The ESV marks this portion of Matthew’s account as the beginning of His ministry.

Matthew 4:12-25 (ESV) | Jesus Begins His Ministry

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
    the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
    have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
    on them a light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew is still focused on demonstrating to his Jewish audience how completely Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. We, Gentiles, tend to focus on the prophecies that point to Christ’s death and resurrection (as we should) for the forgiveness of our sins and our adoption into the Kingdom of God. The Jews, however, were God’s chosen ones. Matthew (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) isn’t waiting for those prophetic references, he is  presenting the very life of Jesus in light of Prophecy, particularly here from the Prophet Isaiah. Let us pause Matthew for a moment and read from Isaiah 9, beginning in the first verse.

Isaiah 9:1-7 (ESV) | For to Us a Child Is Born
1  But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

This is such a beautiful passage of Scripture. The Jews of Jesus’s day longed for this prophecy to come to pass. They had come out of the Exile but the throne of David had not yet been reestablished. They were an occupied people. They longed for the Messiah… only they still wanted a king like the other nations, only they wanted their king to rule as David did. They weren’t ready for Jesus. The next portion of this prophecy speaks of judgment upon Israel. This was initially a prophecy of the coming judgement upon Israel, the northern kingdom. I’ll leave it to you to read on and see if Matthew isn’t also pointing ahead toward the judgement against the religious leaders of Jesus’s Day also. Jesus was coming to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and very soon the Temple would be replaced by Christ’s body. Isaiah has historical context that cannot be subverted, but in its historicity, we see a foreshadowing of what Jesus, the Messiah, was coming to accomplish. Great stuff. Okay, let’s get back to Matthew.

Matthew 4:18-22 ESV | Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus saw them, called them, and they followed Him. Maybe it happens to you, but I didn’t grow up in a fishing community, so often when I read through this passage I picture Jesus walking along the side of a lake at a KOA campground with a few weekend families out on a fishing trip. I have to remind myself that this isn’t their recreation, this is their profession. This isn’t some isolated lake, but it is an integral part of the local economy. The seashore was likely full of fishermen. I don’t like pulling in extra-biblical material, but since I needed an external reference to better picture this scene, let’s look at how historians describe this area around the time of Jesus.

When Herod Antipas took over Galilee in Jesus’ time, it was a rural region on Judea’s margins. Larger towns such as Bethsaida, a fishing center on the Sea of Galilee, could hold as many as 2,000 to 3,000 people. However, most people lived in small villages such as Nazareth, the home of Jesus’ foster father Joseph and his mother Mary, and Capernaum, the village where Jesus’ ministry was centered. The populations of these hamlets rarely rose above 400 people, according to archaeologist Jonathan L. Reed in his book, The Harper Collins Visual Guide to the New Testament.
(ref: About.com)

Another website claiming to quote Josephus (I’ve not yet chased down it’s veracity) assesses that each village in the area of Galilee held populations in excess of 15,000 each. Suffice it to say that my mental image based on how I grew up is far too small. This draws extra significance to the fact that Jesus saw these men and called them. It would be like walking into the food court area of the popular local mall and spotting 4 individuals to call upon… not at random… not by asking for volunteers, but seeing them and calling them. Matthew didn’t need to tell his audience what a busy scene Jesus would have been walking into… they knew. I hope that at least in some way, now you do, too.  Let us continue.

Matthew 4:23-25 ESV | Jesus Ministers to Great Crowds

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

What was the focus of Jesus’ Ministry? Teaching and proclaiming the Gospel. Did He also heal the sick and cast out demons? Yes. Was this a “healing and deliverance crusade”? No. Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the Gospel. What was he preaching? While we don’t have specifics in this passage, Matthew’s reference point coming into this portion is “Now when he heard that John had been arrested…” What was John’s Gospel?

Matthew 3:1-2 (ESV) 1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 3:11-12 (ESV) 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 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.”

Jesus was most likely teaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, only He wasn’t a herald for one who would come after, He is the One, the Only Begotten Son of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. John’s preaching brought many out of Jerusalem to be baptized… Jesus’ preaching brought out many more, from the entire region. Next week, we’ll be diving into the Sermon on the Mount.

Romans 11:33-36 (ESV)
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed. May the Lord bless you and keep you in Him until that great day.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | Jesus Defines Marriage by Dr. James White

AOMValentine’s Day approaches. Today’s “Friday Sermon” comes from Dr. James White. Dr. James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books, a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

However, today’s sermon isn’t from Alpha & Omega Ministry; rather, it comes from the sermon he preached at Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church on Sunday, February 1, 2015. I’m no fan of Valentine’s Day, for the world has had its say on how the Church defines love and romance. However, there is a right way to preach what the Word of God has to say on the topic of Marriage and how God intended male and female to be united in marriage. God created Marriage. He decides how it works and how it doesn’t. Jesus died for our sins and was raised on the 3rd day and has been given the Name above All Names. He defines Marriage. No one else has that right. No one.

Morning Sermon Audio

Jesus Defines Marriage by Dr. James White

Morning Sermon Text

Matthew 19:3-9 (ESV)

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh.What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Evening Sermon (Bonus)

Sex and the Law of God sermon text is Leviticus 18:1-22 (ESV).

Have a Wonderful Weekend

I pray each of you attends church this week that faithfully preaches the Word of God, both Law and Gospel. Pray for your elders.  Pray for our leaders. Pray for repentance and forgiveness daily.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)  24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | Christians and the Covenants

Today’s “Friday Sermon” comes from Pastor Chris Rosebrough, but not from his sermons at Kongsvinger Lutheran Church; rather, it comes by way of his online discernment radio ministry Fighting for the Faith.

In this episode of Fighting for the Faith, Chris Rosebrough departs a bit from his typical format (hour 1 starting with updates on various heretics, celebrity pastors, or self-proclaimed apostles/prophets with hour 2 being a sermon review). He begins by reading from Acts 15 and Galatians exegeting what the Bible teaches regarding the covenants and our relationship with them as Christians in the New Covenant. He will also deal with tithing directly by reading from Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. Rightly understanding the covenants is critical to understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ and discerning the false gospels and false teachings of modern-day Judaizers and hucksters. Modern-day Judaizers don’t push circumcision necessarily, but they push the tithe… hard. Why? To preach for selfish gain what they ought not preach.

Titus 1:10-11 (ESV)

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

After he teaches the proper understanding of the covenants, he works through the basic discernment exercise of Jessie Duplantis and Kenneth Copeland as a warm-up for the full sermon review of the present-day king of Tithe preachers in the evangelical world, Robert Morris.

January 29, 2015 | Blessed Life or Curse of the Law?

If you don’t have time to listen to the full show, at least catch the first hour of teaching before the Jessie Duplantis/Kenneth Copeland exercise.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 4:1-11

bibleLast week, we looked at the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, and we saw how God the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and all who were there heard the voice of God the Father testifying of Jesus. What takes place next is titled “The Temptation of Jesus”. Let’s take a look at this encounter with the enemy and see what Scripture is telling us.

Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV) | The Temptation of Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him,“Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Amen. So what we have here is the conclusion of a 40-day battle. Jesus, the Son of God, being filled with the Holy Spirit was led into the wilderness specifically to be tempted by the devil. He never knew sin, but he was about to know weakness and temptation fully, without falling to it. Is this the only time Jesus is tempted? I think not, but this is the primary battle with temptation directly from Satan, the father of lies. I believe later Jesus continues to be tempted by the weakness of the flesh, my mind jumping directly to His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus never sinned, but it wasn’t for a lack of temptation. In our text for today, we see 3 specific temptations crafted by the devil to attack Jesus. We will look at each temptation individually and then collectively to identify what is going on here.

If you are the Son of God, command these stones…

Right out of the gate, Satan attacks the deity of Jesus Christ in light of His humanity. Yes, Jesus is hungry after His 40-day fast, but that is not the full extent of this particular temptation. Matthew is writing to a Jewish crowd, and the significance of the 40 days in the wilderness pointing to the 40 years that Israel wandered in the desert is plain. However, Satan didn’t challenge Jesus to rain manna from heaven nor did he urge Him to make water spring from a rock. Where did this stones to bread come from? I believe it came from the words of John the Baptist. Why? To point back to the most recent confirmation witness from Heaven that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. Let’s review what John the Baptist was preaching before Jesus presented Himself to him.

Matthew 3:7-12 (ESV) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 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 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.”

Satan’s temptation is to have Jesus demonstrate is Deity by satisfying His flesh. When you think about it… it doesn’t really square. Remember, Satan is the father of lies. Remember the lie in the Garden, “…and you will be like God…” (Genesis 3).

It is actually Jesus who refers back to the Law in Deuteronomy to refute Satan. Let us look at the reference.

Deuteronomy 8:1-3 (ESV) “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Amen. It was the Holy Spirit who led Him into the wilderness for testing. Jesus was not going to cut it short simply to feed His flesh. His flesh didn’t need bread only, but it would live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Satan went after the most recent testimony (a fresh word) and Jesus responded in Scripture.

Throw yourself down, for it is written…

Satan knows Scripture, too. Extremely well, in fact, for he is a master at twisting and perverting it and leading man away after idols and doctrines of demons. Satan slams Jesus with a proof-texts from Psalm 91.

Psalm 91:1-13 (ESV)| My Refuge and My Fortress

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

This temptation here is where much of the visible, modern-day, seeker-sensitive church resides. It is here where professing Christians no longer know how to read the Bible for what it says, because they’ve grown up feeding on narcissistic eisegesis. They turn to “anointed ones” to hear their lectures and buy up their books to see what “that scripture means for me”. They can’t come to the same conclusions themselves because the texts aren’t about them. It almost sounds right, here. Almost. We know it wasn’t because Jesus quickly dismisses it in a fashion that truly those peddling the Word of Faith heresy should heed.

Deuteronomy 6:13-19 (ESV) 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. 16 You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. 18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers 19 by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.

If you’ve been following our reading of the Book of Hebrews, you will understand that such promises of God point toward Jesus, and that the “good Land” of promise is in-fact pointing to the Kingdom of Heaven. Satan’s final temptation is an attempt to convince Jesus to accept “another way” to accomplish His mission… a shortcut, if you will.

All these I will give you, if…

Satan offered a trade. Jesus would have NONE of it. Jesus declares the truth of the Law in what He would later teach as the First and Greatest Commandment, Deuteronomy 6:4-5;13-14 (ESV) 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might….13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods…

Then the devil left Him…

The battle is the Lord’s. By His mighty Hand, He has delivered us from the snare of the fowler. You see, Psalm 91 is true, and it points to Christ and the protection, provision, and life that can be found nowhere else but in Christ Jesus. This life is not our home, this isn’t the promised land… for all of this is temporary.

1 Peter 1:2b-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope
2 …May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Amen. May the Lord bless you and keep you in Him until that great day.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 3:13 – 17

bibleLast week, we picked up our Gospel Wednesday posts continuing in the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 3. After some feedback from my extended family and close friends, we’ve cut back on the amount of Scripture we aim to cover in a single post. While these posts are primarily the result of our family Bible studies, we’d love your feedback to see if we might better present our studies and make them available to you, the reader.

In our last post, we looked John the Baptist and how he fulfilled prophecy as the precursor to the arrival of the Messiah. Today, we will look at the Messiah entering the Account of Matthew continuing to fulfill all righteousness.

Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV) | The Baptism of Jesus

13 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.”

This point has always perplexed me a bit. Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Much false christology has been birthed from bad rationalization of this portion of scripture. Firstly, let’s look at Jesus’s response, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”. If we look for a ceremony of Baptism in the Old Testament that matches what John the Baptist was doing, we won’t find an exact copy. There are ceremonial cleansing laws for going outside the camp, bathing, and washing of garments worn at the time of having become unclean, but these on their own don’t fully define what John was doing. All of Jerusalem were coming out to John the Baptist confessing sins and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins, they weren’t going out there because they had touched a dead body or an unclean animal per se. The baptism for the forgiveness of sins what the ceremonial cleansing laws were pointing forward to, not the other way around. When John was baptizing by water, he also pointed forward to the one who would come after him to baptize by the Holy Spirit and with fire. Now that He has arrived on the scene, He is asking John to baptize Him for the sake of fulfilling all righteousness. At this command, John concedes. Jesus had no sins to confess or need for repentance, He was blameless.

One way to look at this comes from our having been blessed with the complete written Word of God so we can draw from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (ESV) 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Christ shed his blood on that cross as the ultimate payment for our sins, and now we join with Christ via Baptism. The Apostle Peter taught of water baptism in this way. Another way of looking at this which comes from a typological view of Scripture is to see that Jesus is Israel in the flesh. We know that Jesus is the very fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. In Him, was the whole of the Scriptures fulfilled. We understand this from the clear teaching in the book of Hebrews. With this view in mind, let us turn to Ezekiel, chapter 36.

Ezekiel 36:22-32 (ESV) | I Will Put My Spirit Within You
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

Now this prophecy pointed both to God’s bringing Israel out of the Exile into Babylon, but also points to the greater promise of the Messiah, a promise initially made in the Garden, when God said that the seed of woman would crush the head of the serpent. Jesus bore no uncleaness in His person, for He is the Word, God the Son; however, the Word became flesh to stand in our place. He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets on behalf of Israel, the Children of God. Wonderful stuff. Before we move on, I’d like to point out how Jesus brought up this baptism to the Pharisees when they questioned His authority.

Matthew 21:23-27 (ESV) | The Authority of Jesus Challenged
23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Jesus is clearly placing the Baptism of John as a Divinely inspired act. God is the author of the Baptism, not John. This is why I can say that the cleansing laws pointed forward to this Baptism and not the other way around.

As we continue in the Matthew 3 text, notice that the Spirit of God descends upon Jesus immediately following His baptism. This is why we went to the prophecy in Ezekiel, though we could find other references. God’s promise to send His spirit upon the righteous is being fulfilled here in Matthew 3. This promise is made available to all who believe in Him and are baptized in His name, just as Peter told his audience in Acts 2:36-41. Not only did the witnesses see the Heavens opened up to Jesus, and the Spirit of God descending upon Him, God the Father gave an audible testimony of Jesus as the Christ, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

Next week, we will take a look at the battle fought out in the wilderness where the Holy Spirit of God led Jesus.

Colossians 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge