Lesson 17 - The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

    Suggested Bible Reading: Matthew Chapters 3-4

    John the Baptist Prepares the Way.

    John the Baptist was the prophet that had been chosen by God to prepare the people of Israel for the coming of Jesus Christ. In order to prepare their hearts, John began to preach the Word of God to great crowds of people. The message that John preached was very clear and simple, but it was not very popular. His message to the people was that they must repent!

    The Bible says in Matthew 3:1-2, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John meant that the people must change their attitude toward God and about their sin. They needed to agree with God that they sinned against Him and they were helpless to save themselves from Satan, sin, and death in the Lake of Fire.

    These are the same things which God wants every one of us to understand about ourselves and to agree with God. Remember when we studied the Ten Commandments? None of us have been able to keep these commandments perfectly. We have all broken God’s laws, and this is called sin. The punishment for our sin is death and eternal separation from God..

    The Purpose of John’s Baptism

    The Bible says in Matthew 3:5-6, “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” Many of the Jews believed God's Word which John told them and repented of their sins. After repenting of their sins, they went to him to be baptized. When a person was baptized, it was a sign to everyone that the person had agreed with God that he deserved death for his own sins, but was trusting in God to send the Savior to save him. Their baptism was an outward sign which illustrated inner repentance and belief in the Savior. Baptism will not make us acceptable to God. Baptism will not wash away our sins. Baptism is just a sign to show others that a person agrees with God's message and that he is trusting only in God to save him.

    Many of the religious leaders were too proud to admit they were sinners. The religious leaders were made up of three groups of people, the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. The Scribes were the men who copied the words of God onto scrolls. They were the men who were supposed to know and explain the real meaning of the words of God. The Pharisees were a group of men who tried to be accepted by God based on different rules which they had written. The Pharisees added to God's word and did not think they were sinners like other people. The Sadducees did not believe many things which God had written in his Word. The Pharisees added to God's Word, and the Sadducees took truths away from it. The Sadducees were also political leaders of the Jews and therefore kept in good standing with the Roman government which the Jews hated.

    Many of these religious leaders would not admit they were sinners. They thought they were already good enough for God to accept them. They did not like John's message of repentance. John was becoming popular with the people, and some of their followers were leaving them and joining with John. When some of the Pharisees came to be baptized by John, he refused to baptize them and told them to stop trusting in their national heritage to be right with God. They thought that God would accept them because they were Abraham's descendants. No one is accepted by God because of his parents or religious background. No one will be accepted by God simply because they have been baptized. God judges everyone individually, and his judgment is always based on one thing. Have you repented of your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ alone?

    Why was Jesus Baptized?

    Jesus came to be baptized by John when he was about thirty years old. Many have been confused about why Jesus would be baptized by John. Obviously, baptism does not wash away sin, because Jesus had no sin, and yet he submitted himself to baptism. Jesus was baptized to picture His own coming death, burial, and resurrection, which is still what baptism is a picture of today. Secondly, Jesus was baptized to signify to the people that John’s message was true and his authority was from God. Thirdly, Jesus was baptized to show to all that would follow Him, that baptism is an important step of publicly identifying yourself as a follower of Jesus.

    The Bible says in John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” When John saw Jesus, he said that Jesus was the Lamb who was sent by God. John knew that Jesus was the promised Savior. Later, in another lesson, we will study exactly what John meant when he called Jesus the Lamb of God.

    The Temptation of Christ

    The Bible says in Matthew 4:1-2, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” After Jesus was baptized he went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. God had created Lucifer (now known as Satan or the Devil) as a perfect angel, but he made a choice to rebel against God in the beginning. Since then, Satan has been continually evil. Satan tempted Adam to rebel against God. Now he was trying to tempt Jesus to rebel against God. If Jesus would have sinned, He would not have been able to be our Savior. Although Jesus is God, he was also a real man. After forty days without eating any food, he was very hungry.

    The Bible says in Matthew 4:3-4, “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Satan was trying to make Jesus prove he was God. He could have turned stones into bread, but Jesus would not obey Satan. We need food to keep our bodies alive, but God says that there is something much more important than food. We need God's Word to show us the truth and the way to everlasting life. What benefit will food be if we have healthy bodies, but die without God and suffer everlasting punishment? We need to eat food so our bodies will live, but we also need to hear and believe God's Word so we will be able to live forever with God.

    The Bible says in Matthew 4:5-7, “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Satan tried to quote an Old Testament portion of Scripture so that he could trick Jesus into committing sin. Satan knows the words of God in the Bible, but he uses them in the wrong way. He was not quoting Scripture accurately. He only selects portions so he can twist God's words in order to trick people. Satan still uses this approach today. He tries to make people think they should demand that God perform miracles to prove himself to them.

    The Bible says in Matthew 4:8-10, “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Satan could offer Jesus control over all the kingdoms in the world because Satan became the god of this world when Adam sinned against God. Satan tried to get Jesus to worship him. Jesus defeated Satan and did not obey him as Adam did in the Garden of Eden.

    Jesus Is All-Powerful.

    You may have seen movies present the struggle between the forces of good and evil. Often, this struggle is presented as if there were two equal forces battling against one another. God's Word tells us that God is the supreme Creator of all things. Satan could not make Jesus sin. Satan is a strong enemy, but he is no match for the Almighty God. Jesus willingly faced the temptation of Satan and overcame the Devil so that all men would know that Jesus was sinless and perfectly obedient to His Father. Jesus Christ is the Supreme Creator, and He has shown His Almighty power over Satan by His sinless life and His sacrificial death and resurrection.

    Study Questions

    1. The prophet who prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ was .
    2. To repent of your sin means …
    3. What kind of people did John baptize? …
    4. John the Baptist refused to baptize some religious people.
    5. God judges every person by the same standard. Have you of your sin and put your in Jesus Christ alone?
    6. Baptism can help to wash away a person’s sins.
    7. Jesus was baptized in order to picture His coming , burial, and .
    8. If Jesus had sinned, He could not be the Savior of the world.
    9. is the one who tries to make people think that they should demand God to perform to prove himself to them.
    10. Satan is almost as powerful as Jesus Christ.

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