I’m trying out different writing styles for this reading plan, so here we go with point form notes. Also, I think it goes without saying (yet I’m apparently going to say it anyway) that these posts are only scratching the surface of the riches that these passages contain.
- introduction of John the Baptist
- John preaches and baptizes in the desert
- John rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees (no wonder he was unpopular!)
- John predicts the coming of a greater one who will baptize “with the Holy Spirit and with fire”
- John baptizes Jesus (somewhat reluctantly)
- God the Father and the Holy Spirit are audibly / visibly present at this baptism
- Jesus goes to the desert to be tempted by Satan
- Satan comes after Jesus’ 40-day fast and tries three times (unsuccessfully) to tempt Jesus
- The devil tries to (mis)use the Word of God against Jesus to convince Him to give in
- Jesus uses Scripture (correctly) to resist the devil
- John is imprisoned
- Jesus goes to live in Galilee, thereby fulfilling another OT prophesy
- Jesus begins to preach a message of repentance
- Jesus calls four fishermen (Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John) to follow Him
- They obey Him immediately
- Jesus teaches and preaches throughout Galilee
- Jesus heals the sick, and people begin to come from farther away for His healing
- He attracts large crowds who follow Him around
new or continued themes:
- fulfillment of prophesy (ex. John fulfills one of Isaiah’s prophesies in 3:3, Jesus’ baptism in 3:15, Jesus relocates in 4:13-16)
- “repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” – this is the message preached by both John and Jesus; repentance also mentioned directly or indirectly in 3:6, 3:8, 3:10
- baptism – both physical (ie. with water) and spiritual (the Holy Spirit)
- Jesus being set apart and unlike anyone else (ex. the presence of the trinity at His baptism and God’s verbal affirmation of His divinity, His desert “showdown” with Satan, His ability to heal all kinds of diseases)
- the importance of the Word of God (I’m thinking primarily of how it was sort of a “Scripture quotation war” between Jesus and Satan in the desert)
- Jesus is the source of (all) healing
- “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” – this is what John tells the Jewish leaders to do… am I doing the same? am I going through the motions of faith or producing real fruit that is a result of a repentant heart?
- how do I respond to temptation? when Jesus was tempted, He was at a very weak point (physically for sure, probably emotionally/mentally/spiritually as well). it’s easy to make excuses about not being obedient to the Lord when I’m tired, sick, discouraged, or generally “run down.” however, Jesus shows that there are no excuses and that relying on God is the way to handle temptation of every kind.
- “it is written,” “it is written,” “it is written”… the way Jesus handled Satan is a total Psalm 119:11 moment: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” we won’t be deceived when we know God’s word and it has actually become part of us. then we will have the power we need to obey God, even in difficult times.
- when Jesus called Simon and Andrew, they followed Him “at once.” similarly, James and John responded to His call “immediately” – am I so quick to obey the call and command(s) of Christ in my own life? if He asked me to walk away from someone or something I loved / was comfortable and familiar with, would I do it?
- how did John know about the Holy Spirit? (3:11) was this divine revelation/insight given to him at an earlier time? did he somehow get this from reading the OT?
- elsewhere in the NT we are taught to “flee from temptation,” yet in Matthew 4 Jesus seems to be seeking it out (!) and Matthew even says that this was something He was led to do “by the Spirit” (!!!) – is this just an exception because it’s Jesus? did He overcome the devil purely as a man (human nature) or as God (divine nature) or as both?
- even though 4:15-16 are shown as a quotation from Isaiah, why are the actual verses in Isaiah (9:1-2) are a little different? also, I’m pretty sure that’s not the first time that’s happened with NT writers quoting OT passages… what gives?