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Friday, September 21, 2012

Men's Study @ Harvest - Lesson 2

In the second lesson, the Men of Valor study at Harvest went over the beginning of Jesus' ministry. The selected NT texts were Matthew 3:13-17; Matthew 4:1-11; John 2:1-12; John 2:13-25; John 3:1-21. From the very beginning of the study, my interest was in the establishment and inauguration of the ministry of Jesus Christ. The study began with Jesus baptism (anointed his ministry), led by his temptation (tested his ministry), and then followed by his first miracle (validated his ministry). All of these passages have rich OT references that associate closely to Jesus' kingship and messiahship.

Matthew 3:13-17
A. Jesus' baptism is a massive, theologically packed episode in the gospels. It demonstrates many biblical realities concerning the identity and purpose of Jesus by fulfilling many OT references to the Messiah.

B. 3:13, there is so much background that needs to be emphasized in order to answer or acknowledge the reason why Jesus came to John the Baptist (or needed to be baptized). Jesus came to him because the proselyte baptism ministry of John the Baptist was directly linked to the "messenger in the wilderness" preparing "the way of the Lord" as indicated Exodus 23:20, Isaiah 40:3 (cf. Mark 1:2-3), and specifically Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts." Therefore, it is clear that the baptism of Jesus is associated with the prophet's declaration of a messenger who would usher forth as Elijah [meaning John the Baptist as a forerunner to Jesus] predicted at the end of Malachi 4:5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” This fulfillment frames the episode in Matthew's gospel to prove Jesus' kingship and messiahship (identity and purpose) which is confirmed by [this Elijah type] John the Baptist response, the Father (the voice), and the Holy Spirit (the dove).

C. 3:14, John the Baptist responds (cf. Mark 1:4-13; John 1:27) to seeing Jesus as Joshua seemingly viewed the "commander of the army of the Lord" in Joshua 5:13-15, "When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Jesus was indeed the commander in John's eyes.

D. 3:15, Jesus said he needed to be baptized to "fulfill all righteousness." This could be a possible allusion to the new covenant Jesus came to establish through "his righteousness" not Israel's based in Deuteronomy 9:5, "Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may fulfill [confirm] the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob," and in Jeremiah 31:34, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise [of righteousness] I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah."

E. 3:16, when Jesus is baptized, three things happen that are symbolic in the OT:
1) First, when he came up immediately from the water, the "heavens opened to him" as God can only open the heavens in Psalm 78:23, "Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven..."(cf. Genesis 7:11 and Isaiah 24:18 declare the heavens were opened for judgment; Ezekiel 1:1 says the heavens were opened for a prophetic vision).

2) Secondly, after the heavens were opened, the text describes Jesus seeing the Spirit of God descending "upon him" in like manner of a dove. This is explicitly stating that Jesus is the "Lord's anointed" as promised in Isaiah 11:2, "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,and in Isaiah 42:1, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations." (Jesus confirms this biblical reality in Luke 4:16-21 when he quotes Isaiah 61, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.")

3) Thirdly, once the Spirit of God descended upon him, a "voice came from heaven and spoke, 'This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" This audible response to Jesus' baptism is the final validation to prove Jesus is the Messiah. The voice is directly quoting Yahweh (God the Father) who is speaking of the reign of the Lord's anointed [who is indeed Jesus] in Psalm 2:7, "I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you."

This was a great study. I hope you enjoyed some of my notes that encouraged me. I love the baptism episode because we see the Trinity ushering forth and confirming the kingdom of God has come through the life of Jesus Christ.

"Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."
(1 John 2:6)

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