Reading

  • Luke 3:1-6
  • Matt. 3:4-6
  • Luke 3:7-18
  • Matt. 3:13-17
  • Luke 3:21-23a
  • Matt. 4:1-11
  • John 1:19-34

Devotional

In about 27 A.D., John the Baptist received the word of GOD while in the desert. He then went into all the country around the Jordan River and preached baptism for repentance and forgiveness of sins. John's mission was to prepare the way for Jesus, as Isaiah had prophesied (Is. 40:3-5) hundreds of years earlier. John wore clothes made of camel's hair, with a leather belt. He ate locusts and honey and he lived in the desert. People went to him from Jerusalem, Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. They confessed their sins and were baptized by John in the Jordan River.

One day while John was baptizing in the Jordan, Jesus came to him to be baptized. Initially, John refused because of Jesus being so much more holy than himself, but Jesus said it was necessary in order to fulfill all righteousness. For a long time I wondered what this statement "fulfill all righteousness" meant, and finally I think I understood it: GOD gave the instructions to John to preach and baptize his countrymen. Jesus, though He was sinless and needed no forgiveness, was one of those countrymen and therefore needed to obey the command GOD had given. That's why Jesus needed to "fulfill all righteousness."

When Jesus came up from the water, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven upon Jesus in the appearance of a dove, which the people saw. Then a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased." With these events, Jesus began His ministry. He was about 30 years old at the time.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan. Jesus fasted 40 days and nights and He was weak with hunger.

3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Matt. 4:3-11 NIV)

Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to question John as to whether he was the Christ. John explained that he was not the Christ, but that the Christ was among them. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and John proclaimed to those with him that Jesus was the lamb of GOD who takes away the sins of the world. John then attested to how the Holy Spirit had descended on Jesus and said that GOD had told John the one on whom the Spirit descended was the Son of GOD.

Let's quickly make three observations about these events from today's reading:

  1. To serve the LORD requires sacrifice. John wasn't living in comfort. He had a hard message with an uncomfortable lifestyle. I don't know about you but I don't like the idea of eating locusts and wearing clothes made out of camel's hair. John didn't complain. He accepted his life's purpose and excelled in the eyes of GOD and Jesus. Jesus would later say that there were none greater that were born of woman than John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11). Like John, our lives must exist for the purpose of giving ourselves to others. This is hard, but the rewards are well worth the sacrifice.
  2. Jesus faced every temptation that you and I face, but He did not sin (Heb. 4:15). It is because of Jesus' strength in resisting temptation that He was qualified to give His perfect life blood as an atoning sacrifice for our guilty life blood.
  3. There are always going to be those people who pretend to love GOD, but are really more interested in obtaining the praise of men. From the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, we can see these hard-hearted Pharisees, scribes and Jewish religious leaders have the wrong expectations about the Christ, and what He is going to accomplish, and they will quickly reject His message because Jesus is going to convict them of being more concerned with the praise of men than in pleasing GOD. The same is true today. There is a general principle that you need to always remember: The more popular a person, teaching, belief, doctrine, or practice, the more cautious and skeptical I should be that they (or it) are approved by GOD. What's popular among men is generally not pleasing to GOD.
Tim Harris
Author: Tim Harris

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