Look Forward! Go Forward!

I suppose I have to offer my apologies to my father-in-law for the title of this article. You see, this is one of those things that I learned from him several years ago. It is something on which I have heard him preach on several occasions. But the sentiment is so very true that it simply demands being repeated on occasion and especially on days such as today, the first day of a New Year.

The year 2006 is before us. 2005 is dead and gone and will never return to us. There is no point in going back and worrying about the mistakes, problems, difficulties, trials, and temptations of 2005. No, to do that would be to needlessly focus upon the past. That

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Job 4:12-21 – Eliphaz’ Vision, Question, and Conclusion

Verses 12-16 – Eliphaz discusses in these verses a vision, of sorts, that he has respecting this particular subject. Did Eliphaz really have such a vision and from where did it come? Read More »

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Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus tempted by Satan

Vs. 1 – Closely following the Spirit’s acknowledgement of Jesus, the Spirit directs Jesus to go into this wilderness where He would be tempted by Satan. Mark records that there were “wild animals” in this wilderness (Mark 1:13). The wilderness of Judea was a rocky, barren, scrubby environment more or less hostile to human life. There were places where one could get water, but by and large it was an empty uninhabited region.

The Spirit’s role in this is not to directly tempt Jesus, for God cannot tempt any man (James 1:13), but rather, to lead Jesus to the situation where Satan would provide the temptations. Why could Jesus not do this on His own? Because it is in and of itself a sin for man to seek temptations. Jesus taught us to pray that we not be lead into temptation, but be delivered from evil (Luke 11:4). He told the disciples, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40). The man who willingly seeks after temptations is a man who is not doing the Lord’s will. Yet, it was necessary that Jesus be tempted while on earth, so the Spirit directed Jesus to undergo such.

Why was Jesus tempted? While Jesus was God, He was also man. Jesus hungered as a man, thirsted as a man, suffered as a man, and ultimately died as a man. He was also tempted as a man, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). This was necessary so that He could become a merciful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17). Jesus knew what it meant to be tempted with sin and the things of this world. In this regard, He wasn’t like the mythological gods of Rome and Greece who gave in to temptation but were somehow above it all. Jesus was no hypocrite. He resisted temptation his entire life. In so doing, He became the perfect standard for us to imitate in life (Hebrews 12:1,2).

The Devil, is, of course, Satan. Jesus said he was a murderer from the beginning and that he has no truth in him (John 8:44). The word “Devil” means “adversary” or “accuser.” That’s Satan’s true character. Of course, that’s not what he wants us to think about him. He wants us to think of him as our friend but the sober minded Christian will remember that Satan the true enemy and constantly seeks to undermine us in everything that we do for Christ. In that regard, he is like the lion who is seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We must resist him in all things and with all prayer (1 Peter 5:9). When we so resist, he will flee from us, because he is truly a coward (James 4:7).

Vs. 2 – Fasting means abstinence from eating food for a period of time (Luke 4:2). Jesus fasted so as to focus himself for the challenge of temptation that He was about to face. Being tempted directly by Satan was no ordeal into which one ought to enter unprepared. Prayer is often accompanied with fasting (Mark 9:29, Luke 2:37, Acts 14:23) and no doubt Jesus involved Himself in this activity as well though the text does not so say. A wise teacher once told me, “You can pray without fasting, but you can’t fast without praying.” Fasting helps the prayer life.

There seems to be a significance in the number 40 here. The earth was cleansed in 40 days and 40 nights of rain during the flood. Joseph’s embalming process was 40 days (Genesis 50:3). The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. It seems to be a number that indicates cleansing and purification. The numerology is consistent in the case of Jesus’ fasting as well.

After fasting for forty days and nights, it would be very natural for Jesus to be hungry.

Vs. 3 – Matthew calls Satan “the Tempter” in this verse. It is yet one more characteristic of Satan against which we need to be on guard. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

In our translation, Satan says “If.” We ought not to necessarily think that Satan doubted that Jesus was the Son of God from this word. The Greek language had several ways to express conditional statements. In the way the word “if” is used here, it indicates that Satan believed Jesus was the Son of God. Some have suggested that it be translated “since” instead of “if,” but that’s not necessary. We understand that “if” sometimes indicates belief instead of disbelief. We may say, “If you want to drive the car, then buy some gas.” There’s no indication of doubt in that statement. Merely condition. Such was also the case with Satan’s statement. Since Jesus was the Son of God, then why not change these stones to bread. He had the power to do it, so do it. That was the essence to Satan’s temptation here.

In tempting Jesus with bread, Satan attempts to use Jesus’ source of spiritual strength (His fasting) against Him. Satan knew Jesus was hungry. This shows that Satan does in fact have knowledge of the human condition and he knows how to use that condition against man (2 Corinthians 2:11). Perhaps Satan thought that the same ruse would work on Jesus that worked on His fleshly mother, Eve, in the garden. Fortunately, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) isn’t as easily swayed as the first.

Satan’s temptation, however, was not in the form of offering bread directly to Jesus, but in tempting Jesus to use His power for purely selfish purposes. Jesus used His power to multiply the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:39-44). But he did it for selfless purposes in that case. Here, the sin would have been two fold; first it would have been an abuse of God’s power, and second, it would have been obeying the voice of Satan. The word would be in a much better place today if only we would follow Jesus’ example in not listening to the voice of Satan.

Here is also a great lesson for us. Satan would have us believe that the things with which he tempts us are for our own good. Sadly, there are many who fall for it hook, line, and sinker. However, we must look beyond the immediate benefits of such temptation and see the thing for what it really is; Satan’s effort to ensnare us in his web of deceit.

Vs 4 – Jesus’ response to Satan was to quote scripture. He cites Deuteronomy 8:3 where God instructs the children of Israel regarding the manna with which He fed them. They were to know and realize that it wasn’t be bread alone that they survived, but by the very words of God themselves. In that regard, the word “every” is used both here and in Deuteronomy. It is not by just SOME of God’s words that it is sufficient for us to live, but all of them. The ASV 1901 translates Psalm 119:160a, “The sum of thy word is truth.” It takes all of God’s teaching on any one given subject for us to know what the entirety of that teaching is. It is ALL scripture that is given that the man of God may be complete (2 Timothy 3:16,17). It was using the scriptures that Jesus powerfully refutes Satan’s temptation. So it can be for us today as well. The Psalmist writes, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

Vs. 5 – The holy city was Jerusalem and the pinnacle of the temple was the highest point on the top of the temple which overlooked the lowest valley on one of it’s sides making for a height of around 700 feet. It was a height from which if anyone would fall they would certainly meet death. Whether Jesus stood on the roof or in a portico as some have suggested doesn’t really matter all that much. The height would have been more or less the same and the fact that it was still the “pinnacle” not diminished in the slightest.

Vs. 6 – Once again Satan challenges Jesus to show His power. “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down and prove yourself to be such. The angels will bear you up so that you don’t hurt yourself.” This was little more than what we would today call a “dare.” “I dare you to do it.” It is a childish practice that often ends up hurting those who participate in it more than it does help the self esteem of the one who is challenged to do it. It should come as no surprise that another characteristic of Satan is that he is childish and immature in his antics.

Satan does, however, wise up in one regard. This time he quotes scripture to Jesus. It is a grave lesson to us. Satan knows what God’s word says and is prepared to use it against us if we are not educated and knowledgeable in it. Satan even uses the scriptures in, at least, their immediate context. He quotes from Psalm 91:11,12. These were legitimate prophecies concerning the Christ and the protection that He would be afforded while on earth. Satan, however, always has in mind a misappropriating spirit and while he seemingly understands these passages correctly, he makes an incorrect application of them. Jesus’ correction is thus, forthcoming.

Vs. 7 – Jesus’ reply to Satan corrects his use of scripture. God’s word must be understood as a whole, not by taking one part of it and using it separate from what the other parts teach. There are several contexts in which we must handle scripture. There is the immediate context (the passage), there is the mediate context (the book), and there is the remote context (the entire Bible). Satan appears to have used this scripture correctly so far as the immediate and mediate contexts are concerned. But he doesn’t consider the remote contexts and thereby he causing the word of God to contradict itself. We simply cannot afford to make the same mistakes that Satan makes here. We simply cannot afford to handle God’s word in a way that is inconsistent with other parts of that word and message. We must handle God’s word correctly (2 Timothy 2:15).

In casting himself off the temple, Jesus would have been deliberately testing God when the situation did not warrant it. Thus, Jesus replies with Deuteronomy 6:16. The follower of God doesn’t deliberately test, try, or tempt God. This isn’t the same as testing the spirits to see whether they are of God (1 John 4:1). In such a case, it isn’t God that is being tested, but the individuals who claim to be speaking for God. But rather, this is a case where one says, “Ok, God, you’ve said you will do this and that; so let’s see if you really mean it.” It is a haughty spirit that so speaks to God, not a spirit of humility.

Does this mean that there is never an occasion where we can test, try, or prove God? No, it doesn’t mean that. Certainly we can use the information that is in the world to come to the right conclusions about God as we are seeking after Him. Certainly we can seek to discover whether or not the Bible is the inspired word of God and so ask legitimate questions in that regard. But this test of Satan is not a legitimate test. Satan knows what God can and cannot do, as does Jesus himself. Hence, to test something that you already know can be done, is merely an affront. It is childishness. We might as well imagine the conversation of two young boys here. “Can you break that stick in two pieces?” “Of course I can.” “Well, then prove it.” That is Satan’s attitude here; not one of legitimately showing that God keeps his word.

Vs. 8 – Again, Satan takes Jesus to another locale and shows him all the kingdoms of the world. The text says it was a “high mountain.” We don’t know what mountain this was and it is pointless to speculate. It seems, however, that this must have been a miraculous vision as it is literally impossible to see all the kingdoms of the world from any one mountain and as Luke points out it was all “in a moment of time” (Luke 4:5).

Not only does Satan show Jesus the kingdoms themselves, but also their “glory.” Satan emphasized their honor, splendor, and beauty. What Satan didn’t show Jesus was their wickedness, wretchedness, and sinfulness. Satan is the great deceiver. He only showed Jesus that which would tempt Him. To show Jesus the other aspects of these nations would only have emphasized to Jesus the great need that these nations had for the gospel. Such would be counterproductive to Satan’s purposes. Today also, Satan only desires to show man the “glory” of sin and not the gutter of it. The greatest illustration of this in modern day society is the beer commercial. The commercials often show people who are having a good time, laughing, and enjoying life. The commercials don’t show the man who is hugging the toilet, beating his wife and kids, or spending all of his paycheck while his family starves. The true side of sin is always ignored by Satan, because if everyone always saw the consequences of sin instead of the immediate pleasures, it would never be chosen. In that regard, let us follow the example of Moses who chose to suffer rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25).

But where lies the temptation for Jesus in Satan’s showing all of these kingdoms? The temptation was for Jesus to take the easy path for world “salvation.” With control of all the nations, Jesus could force everyone to do His will. After all, He created this world and these are His subjects. Why not compel them to obey Him instead of having to go through the future He knew He had in store? Because such is not the way of God. God desires to reason with man regarding his sins (Isaiah 1:8), not force upon man His ways. Jesus authority would come from His self sacrificing spirit, and humble example (Philippians 2:5-9), not from a desire to rule and conquer the earth with the sword (John 18:36).

Vs. 9 – Did Satan have the power to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world? But in what sense did Satan mean he would give Jesus these kingdoms? Did he mean that Jesus would be allowed to rule as an earthly king over the entire world? Or did he mean that he simply wouldn’t interfere in whatever Jesus had planned? Luke’s account records Satan as saying, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Luke 4:6). Satan offered Jesus the power and the glory of all the kingdoms of the world. He certainly stated that he possessed these things and that he could give them to whoever he desired. But Satan is a liar (John 8:44). Was this merely a ruse? 2 Corinthians 4:4 states that he is the god of this world. He certainly holds influence, through sin, over the majority of the world and he may have had a temporary power to control the world, but ultimately all things are under God’s control and Satan must have known that. So even if Satan had the power to offer these things, what he offered Jesus could only have been a temporary affair and ultimately not part of God’s eternal plan to save man.

But Satan asks too much of Jesus for these things; he asks Jesus to worship him. We should note that here we have doubt in the word “if” in this verse. Satan was completely unsure as to whether Jesus would worship him or not. The Greek construction indicates this uncertainty.

Bowing down to worship Satan is a thought that is repulsive even to the weakest of Christians and it doesn’t appear to be too long before Jesus is disgusted with the request and quickly refuses. The word “worship” means to engage in a peculiar and exclusive act of reverential homage or tribute to someone or something. Satan wanted Jesus to “fall down” or “bow down” and worship him. The act of falling down prostrate at the feet of another is often characterized in the New Testament as an act of worship, and when it is done wrongly, it is always corrected. Peter so corrected Cornelius in Acts 10:25,26. An angel so corrected the apostle John in Revelation 19:10 and 22:9. When it is done correctly, however, it is never rebuked. We find such in Matthew 2:11 with the example of the wise men worshipping the infant Jesus. In Matthew 8:2 a leper worshipped Jesus. The apostles also worshipped Jesus after His resurrection (Matthew 28:9). Such seems to be what Satan wanted Jesus to do here.

Vs. 10 – Jesus flatly refused to worship Satan. It was an appalling concept. Jesus answers Satan with the words “Get thee hence,” “Be gone,” “Go away,” or in the modern vernacular “Get out of here.” It is a strong rejection and one which was closely followed, once again, by scriptural rebuke.

Jesus quotes from the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 6:13. God alone is worthy of our worship, no other. See comments above on verse 9.

This is the third time that Jesus has quoted from scripture to refute Satan. It is a powerful example to us that if we know the scriptures then we can route Satan’s temptations. Again, Psalm 119:11 is very appropriate, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” When we know and understand God’s word, we have the greatest weapon of righteousness with which to go on the offensive against Satan (Ephesians 6:17).

Vs. 11 – The devil left Jesus, at least, for now. Satan may leave us alone for a time, but he will always return and seek us out again. As long as we are on this earth, we have temptation.

God has promised, however, that he will not completely abandon us to Satan’s devices. 1 Corinthians 10:13 states “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” There are four things in this verse that give us assurances that we can overcome temptation when Satan brings it upon us. 1) We can know that all temptations are common to men. Somewhere someone else has been able to overcome that temptation. 2) We can know that God is faithful. Thereby, we can rely upon Him for all things and need not be tempted by anything. 3) God will not allow us to be tempted above our ability to resist. Knowing this, we can understand that whatever temptation comes our way, it is something that we know we can refuse or else God wouldn’t have allowed it. 4) With each temptation there is a way to escape out of it so that we don’t sin. We need to look for that escape route. With all of this help in time of temptation, we certainly have the ability to effectively resist sin in our lives. We ought to note, however, that these promises are not given to those who are not Christians. Satan has his complete way with them.

After forty days and nights of no food, Jesus needed sustenance and once the temptations had ceased, miraculous aid was at hand. God kept his promise to take care of Jesus as Satan himself pointed out and now appropriately and without sin, the angels ministered to him fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 91:11,12. We don’t have the details as to what they did, but food and personal rest as was done for Elijah once (see 1 Kings 19:1-8), seem appropriate.

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Job 4:7-11 – Eliphaz Questions Job’s Innocence

Vs. 7 – This is Eliphaz key question to Job. Both Bildad and Zophar will echo this thought but in slightly different ways. The accusation against Job is obvious. “Job, you are obviously suffering a great deal and since we know that the righteous don’t suffer like this, you’ve obviously done something horribly sinful to bring this upon yourself.” Eliphaz argument is that the innocent don’t perish and the upright aren’t cut off. Job, from their perspective, has obviously been “cut off” and is perishing. That means that Job is not an innocent man; in Eliphaz’ mind Job must have done something exceedingly wicked to bring this terrible ordeal upon himself.

We must remember that Job had not done anything wicked to bring these calamities upon himself. In fact, it was just the opposite; it was because Job was righteous that he was suffering these things. Satan’s challenge to God was that Job would curse God if God allowed Satan to take away his possessions and plague his body with afflictions. Job never did this. Job’s friends, of course, don’t know all that has gone on in heaven regarding Job’s situation and for that matter, neither does Job. Hence they assume that they know what has happened when they really don’t. They assume this based upon the false premise that the wicked always suffer.’

This was also a common assumption in the days of Jesus. The disciples once asked Jesus something very similar. John 9:2 records, “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Verse 3 states, “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Jesus certainly didn’t teach that only the wicked suffer but rather, that man’s suffering was an opportunity to glorify God.

The fact of the matter is that the innocent often suffer for the sins of others. How many countless children in the world go hungry and dying because some ruthless dictator is too selfish to share his wealth? And sometimes the innocent suffer for no reason at all. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters often claim the lives of innocent victims. These natural events are simply part of the world in which we live; there is no necessarily inherently punishment associated with these events. Certainly if God wanted to use such events as punishment for one or another He could, but the fact of the matter is that suffering isn’t innately linked with punishment, but that’s what Eliphaz suggests here, namely, that if someone is suffering, they are being punished.

Vs. 8 – Eliphaz statement is correct here. It reflects the same sentiments that Paul sets forth in Galatians 6:7,8 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” What is incorrect regarding Eliphaz conclusion is his reasoning. He reasons, “Those who sow trouble reap the same. Job is reaping trouble. Therefore he must have been sowing it.” That’s an illogical conclusion known as the fallacy of the excluded middle. So while Eliphaz does understand some true things, he reasons incorrectly regarding those things.

Vs. 9 – Here Eliphaz assumes that it is God’s anger that is behind Job’s sufferings. Certainly God is angry with those who sin and certainly God can and will use His power to destroy the sinner (see Leviticus 10:1,2 and Revelation 21:8). However, one must first show that the things that are happening to an individual on earth are truly acts of God. This is where Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Job all make a huge mistake. They all assume that God is behind the awful things that are happening to Job. Why do they make such a mistake? Is it possible they didn’t know about Satan? I don’t see how they could not have known about him given the origins of man and the role that Satan played in the fall of Adam and Eve. It is possible that they don’t believe that Satan is capable of displaying such power over the life of an individual. The bottom line is that we don’t know why they attribute all of Job’s sufferings to God when Satan was truly to blame. Nevertheless, they do.

Herein lies a mistake that many make today. They don’t realize that there is someone else to blame for suffering except God. We would do well NOT to follow the example of Eliphaz here and always consider that Satan may be the true source of our problems. There are other reasons for suffering in the world today as well. One can certainly suffer because of poor decisions that he has made. One may suffer due to another person’s poor decisions. Regardless the cause of our suffering, we must always realize that God is never to blame for that which is evil, but that He can only be responsible for good (see James 1:17). In that regard, instead of blaming God for our troubles, we ought to be praising him for the great blessings He provides. Forgetting to praise God has often led to accusing God falsely of things for which He is not responsible.

Vs. 10-11 – The Lion was considered the strongest and most fierce of creatures in Job’s day. Eliphaz uses the Lion symbolically here to show that God’s power is even greater than that of the Lion and may have been referring figuratively to Job’s material wealth and power as well. The reasoning is as follows. Even the Lion cannot resist God’s anger. The Lion’s roar, voice, and teeth are all broken before God. God can even withhold food from the Lion so that he starves and his family is scattered. One can certainly see the obvious connotation that Eliphaz has in regard to Job’s family as well. The figure is simply used poetically to reinforce the point the Eliphaz had just made, namely, that Job cannot, even in all of his power and influence, resist the punishments of God. Thus are Eliphaz’ conclusions regarding Job’s situation.

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Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus is baptized

Please open your Bibles to Matthew 3:13-17.

Matthew has introduced us to the birth and announcement of the King of kings. He has brought us through the prophecies that have heralded his coming and introduced us to the forerunner that is making all paths straight for his appearance. In this section of scripture, Matthew records the heavenly pronouncement of Jesus monarchy as testified to by John the baptizer, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The King has come! His kingdom will soon be at hand.

Vs. 13 – The verse literally reads, “Then came Jesus from Galilee, upon the Jordan, toward John, to be baptized by him.” The prepositions, though translated similarly in the Authorized Version are different in the Greek. They are, in order: APO, EPI, PROS, and hUPO. Each has a little different flavor of meaning in the verse.

Jesus comes to the Jordan river from his home of Galilee where his family has lived the majority of Jesus’ life. The people in Galilee knew Jesus and his family (Matthew 13:55-56). The Jordan was so situated from Galilee that one merely had to travel down the length of the valley to whatever portion of the river on which John was baptizing.

The purpose of Jesus coming is stated specifically, namely, “to be baptized of him.” Jesus intended, in coming to John, to be baptized. For a discussion of the mode of baptism in this context, see comments on Matthew 3:5,6.

Vs. 14 – John did not want to be the one who baptized Jesus because John did not consider himself worthy to baptize Jesus. He “was trying to prevent” it. This is the imperfect tense. It is presented to us as John making a persistent effort at not allowing Jesus to be baptized by him. John’s statement, in that regard, was the instrument of prevention.

In John’s statement he said that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Did John mean by this that he needed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Or did John simply mean that he needed to be baptized in the current medium of water by Jesus? While it is true that John prophesied that Jesus was to baptize in the Holy Spirit (vs.11), when John refers to this kind of baptism, he specified the medium. John makes no such specification here, leaving us to the natural conclusion that John was merely referring to his baptizing in water. In other words, in this verse, John simply says he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Hence, the emphasis here is not upon the mode of baptism as much as the one who is doing the baptizing. Whatever the mode of baptism might be, it was John who needed to be baptized by Jesus, not Jesus by John. That must be the only point that we take out of this verse.

It is a great mark of humility and respect on the part of John the baptizer that he recognized his inferiority to Jesus. It is also at least one reason why Jesus honored him by stating that there was, prior to the kingdom, no greater prophet born among women (Luke 7:28).

Vs. 15 – Jesus answer to John was simple, yet profound. In this answer Jesus’ doesn’t disagree that John needed to be baptized by him. In that regard, Jesus doesn’t argue with John. Jesus simply tells John to now allow it for one simple reason: to fulfill all righteousness.

For Jesus’ part, John’s baptism was the “counsel of God” (Luke 7:30), and thus, Jesus, while being the sinless person that he was (Hebrews 4:15), needed not to be baptized in reference to His sins (as were all others who were baptized of John, see vs.6), but merely for the purpose of obeying God. Had Jesus not been baptized, then he would have been no different than the Pharisees (Luke 7:30), at least, in respect to John’s baptism. However, Jesus, being the obedient Son that He was, sought John out and purposed to be baptized so as to complete within Himself the will of the Father in His life (John 8:29). God’s ways are always righteous (Psalm 145:17). John’s baptism was part of God’s ways (Luke 1:15-17). Hence, to be baptized of John was necessary for Jesus to fulfill righteousness.

It is interesting in this verse to note that Jesus doesn’t say, “thus it becomes me” but rather, “thus it becomes us.” It was part of God’s plan that John participate in Jesus’ fulfilling all righteousness. Jesus thus reflects this thought in his statement with the word “us.” This is a comforting verse for those in service to God. It is comforting from the standpoint that if John, in all of his weakness and sin, could fulfill God’s purpose in being the agent to baptize Jesus, so also the rest of us in all of our weakness and sin, can fulfill God’s purpose for our life as well in whatever role God expects of us. God’s demands that we serve Him in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). It is not the rare occasion that we feel unworthy to do the things which God expects of us. However, that did not stop God from expecting John to do his job. So also it won’t stop God from expecting us to do ours. And when we do what God expects us to do in His service, then we too can fulfill our purpose in God’s plan. Like John, we need to be willing to submit to the Lord in this regard. We need to be like John instead of like the one talent man, who, only focusing upon his failures, could not take any of the abilities that God had given to him and do something with it in service to God (Matthew 25:14-30).

This verse also defeats forever the often touted excuse: “Nobody’s perfect.” Well, so what if you’re not? That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t expect one to live the way that he ought to live. Jesus didn’t allow John to use such an excuse for not doing God’s will. Why ought we to expect that he will so accept the same excuse from us? No, the “nobody’s perfect” excuse isn’t going to cut it on the Day of Judgment.

Both Jesus and John “fulfilled all righteousness” in this verse, each by doing what God expected both to do. When we, in our lives, do what God expects us to do and submit ourselves to His righteousness, then we can be counted as righteous before God as well (Romans 10:3) not merely because our doing it constitutes righteousness, but because God said we would be righteous if and when we do His will (1 John 3:7).

Vs. 16 – After Jesus baptism, he literally came up out of the water. The mode of baptism that John used is clear. It was immersion.

The heavens opened to Jesus in that those who inhabit heaven (Isaiah 66:1) testified concerning Jesus immediately after his baptism.

Much has been made out of this passage particularly in regard to the Holy Spirit’s role. We should also note that it was the Spirit of God that descended upon Jesus here, not a dove. The dove was the form or shape that the Spirit took. We need not think of this as anything more than Divine testimony that Jesus was, in fact, God’s Son.

Some have suggested that prior to this point Jesus did not have the Holy Spirit. Such a suggestion would deny the deity of Christ. The Holy Spirit was as much a part of Jesus prior to this point as after. This, however, doesn’t mean that the Spirit could not manifest Himself in some other way. He is omnipresent and shares in all of God’s attributes (Psalm 139:7-12).

Vs. 17 – The words spoken in this verse would be uttered yet again in the transfiguration as recorded by Matthew (17:5). What greater words could one expect from one’s father than these? How much more great are they when they come from The Heavenly Father? The Father was well pleased with Jesus because Jesus always did those things that pleased Him (John 8:29).

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all present in this passage. The Bible does indeed teach the doctrine of the trinity. It is an article of faith that we must accept as true as our finite minds simply cannot grasp the totality of the concept. But if we can believe a triangle has three sides, corners, and angles and yet still believe it to be one shape, certainly we can accept that the Godhead is composed of three “persons” and is yet one God. It is within Jesus that the fullness of the Godhead thus came to dwell in a man’s body (Colossians 2:9). Not only did the Holy Spirit dwell in Jesus, but the Father as well (John 14:9-11).

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