Jesus, Baptism, and Temptation
Most Christians are familiar with baptism. It is one of our holiest rituals. Not as many however are familiar with the history and meaning behind it. There was a time when John was baptizing people in the river some thought him insane, some thought that he might be the messiah. John himself dismissed any talk of he being the chosen one. He would tell people he was not the messiah, but only the one clearing the way for the son of God. Now lets pick up with the story as we read from,
“ At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River so that John would Baptize him. John tried to stop him and said “ I need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me ?” Jesus answered” Allow me to be baptized now. This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.”
So John agreed to baptize Jesus. When Jesus was baptized , he immediately came up out of the water. Heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on him. A voice from heaven said, “ This is my son whom I dearly love, I find happiness in him.”
There are a couple of very important points to consider here. First of all this marks the occasion where God himself, seated on his throne in heaven acknowledges to all present that Jesus is indeed his son. Second this first illustrates how important baptism is as a sign of our submission and obedience to God. Baptism is so important as an expression of our obedience that even the Son of God could not exempt his self. Notice that Christ did not say I know I could take a pass, but I want to set a good example. He did not “pull rank.” He said that baptism was necessary ! He said that even he could not lay claim to all righteousness without it.
I would appear that this was a good time for Christ to be “right with God.” Lets take a look at what happens soon after in the words of,
“ Then the Spirit led Jesus up to the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. The tempter came to him and said, “ Since you are God’s Son command these stones to become bread.” Jesus replied, “ It is written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.” After that the devil brought him into the holy city, and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him “ Since you are God’s Son throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.” Jesus replied “Again it is written Don’t test the Lord your God.” Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said “ I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.” Jesus responded “ Go away Satan because it is written. “You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him. “ Then devil left him, and the angels came and took care of him.”
Mathew 4 is not so much an account of what Christ did, as it is a warning to the rest of us. Just as Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, he constantly tempts us in the wilderness of our daily lives. Just as Satan promised Christ all the kingdoms of the world, Satan will promise us the world if only we will worship him. But it is a false promise, the world is not Satan’s to give. He will say to us, “surely God has forgotten you, otherwise you would not be hungry, or homeless, or sick, or hurt.” He will try and use any aspect of our lives to distract us from the true promises of God, and our faith in those promises, and God’s perfect timing. Please notice that Satan is not ignorant of the word of God. He in fact knows it quite well, and he is not beyond twisting it to win us away from God. We too often forget how special each of us is. We are so special that not only will God fight for us if we let him. Satan, the enemy will give all that he has for us, if we would only follow him. Every time we choose to follow God’s word Satan looses, and he knows it ! As the drill sergeant in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman said “ I will use every thing fair and unfair to trip you up !” Satan doesn’t care about fair, only about winning. To God fair is irrelevant. God seeks to be more than fair. God seeks to be merciful. In return he asks that we turn away from hollow temptations and follow him, and his word.