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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Job 4:1-6 – Eliphaz questions Job’s character

In this chapter, Eliphaz begins his debate with Job. Eliphaz questions Job’s character and innocence. Eliphaz then proceeds to find Job guilty of some unnamed sin because of the great amount of suffering Job is enduring.

Vs 1-2, Eliphaz begins to speak to Job. Evidently Job’s complaints in the previous chapter have moved him to a response and rebuke. Eliphaz believes that Job is in this predicament as a direct result of something sinful that Job has done. And so he doesn’t believe that Job’s desire for relief is justified. He believes Job is getting what he deserves. Hence, Eliphaz begins with the question of whether or not speaking to Job in this regard would cause him to be “grieved” or “impatient.” It’s not that Eliphaz cares whether Job feels this way or not. The question is more really of a design to mean, “If I respond to you Job, are you going to take this in the right way?” Eliphaz then makes it plain that he is compelled to comment upon Job’s situation after the words of complaint that Job has just spoken.

Vs. 3-4 – Eliphaz acknowledges Job’s role in this society. Job was a man who was esteemed and admired by all. He was a counselor and a man of the gate. He was one of the city elders to whom disputes were brought so that they could be settled. This place of honor would be equivalent to our city counsel or perhaps an eldership in a local church. Religion was not so much separated from matters of government in that day and the distinction is not observed by either Job or his friends. Job himself recalls this position of honor in Job 29:7-17. Job had indeed instructed many and Job had also strengthened the feeble and weak. In Job 31:16-23 Job claims that he was always fair to the poor and those in need and he never took advantage of them. And, no one ever questions Job in this regard. It is thus only right for Eliphaz to acknowledge Job’s honors before he begins criticizing him. Yet those few words of praise in Eliphaz mouth don’t appear to mean very much during and after the criticisms. Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” When one is truly a friend, he will stick with you through thick and thin. Job’s friends may have been physically there for him, but spiritually, they abandoned him in his time of need.

Vs. 5 – Eliphaz words seem to contain a touch of purposeful irony. Yes, he recognized that Job was at one time in a position to assist others, but now Job, here you are in this situation where you now need the help of others. It’s almost patronizing in its content. Eliphaz’ statement regarding Job’s current situation reveals to us that he though Job to be somewhat hypocritical in his behavior. It is almost as if Eliphaz is saying, “Job helped others in the past, but now that he is suffering, he can’t help himself. When adversity comes upon him, he faints; he is troubled.” This is unfair criticism of Job. It is natural for someone in Job’s circumstances to feel down trodden. Eliphaz ought not to point out what is clearly evident here, emphasizing Job’s sufferings, but instead offer words of comfort. How many of us would walk into the hospital room of a patience whose body is disease ridden and is clearly suffering and say something like, “Well, it’s finally come upon you now.” Not only is it rude, it’s just not necessary to say. Both the one suffering and the one visiting know what the circumstances are. They don’t need to be so repeated so as to emphasize the obvious.

Vs. 6 – Again, Eliphaz appears to be mocking Job’s life. Job was indeed one who had feared God and one whose ways were filled with integrity. Thus, Job had reason to hope that his relationship with God was a good one. Eliphaz seems to be saying here, “Considering your suffering, Job, do you still believe that your fear of God and your personal integrity are reasons to hope that you have a good relationship with God?” This becomes a common element in these three’s criticism of Job. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all question the necessity of man’s righteousness in relationship to his salvation. They don’t seem to believe that man’s righteousness ultimately makes any difference because man’s sins completely eclipse any good that a man might do (see Job 25:4-6). In that regard, they are similar to modern day Calvinists who state that there is no good thing that a person may do that would affect one’s salvation. Well, the Bible teaches otherwise. John states in 1 John 3:7 “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” Man has a personal responsibility to fear and obey God; this fear and obedience are part of God’s plan for man’s salvation (Ecclesiastes 12:13, Hebrews 5:9). Job’s friends, however, did not believe this. Hence they must conclude that Job deserves every bit of his suffering due to his own personal sins.

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Job 3:20-26

Please open your Bibles to Job 3:20-26.

In this section, we find the key question to the entire book of Job. Rephrased into today’s vernacular we would ask, “Why do good men suffer bad things?” or “Why is there suffering in the world?” The burden of the book of Job is to answer this question and we don’t get the answer in a short simple statement, because it’s not that kind of answer. There are many things that go through an individual’s mind when he is suffering. Is God mad at me? Is God punishing me? Why doesn’t God explain what He is doing? What will be the results of all of this? Why haven’t I died? Why shouldn’t I kill myself? What role does sin have in my suffering? These are all questions that are answered in the book of Job, but one must take the time to look at the book as a whole. The question of “Why do good men suffer bad things?” is a question that can’t be answered in just one sitting. It can only be answered through reasoning and contemplation, prayer and meditation of God and His word. This, and all the other attendant questions, will be answered in this book.

One thing we should note here. Neither Job nor his friends ever question God existence in regard to this problem. This is, of course, one of the great arguments today levied by those who do not believe in God. But the fact of the matter is that if there is true “evil” in the world, then God must exist. How so? In order for their to be something that one can objectively categorize as evil, then there must be a standard by which one may categorize such as evil – a standard of right and wrong. But if there is a standard of right and wrong, then there must be someone that has a right to levy that standard and require justice of those who violate it. No mere men or group of men contain the authority within themselves to establish such a standard. The only place from which such a standard can come is from Someone who is over and above the provincial and transient standards of men. God is really the only one who satisfies these requirements. The problem of evil doesn’t disprove God; it proves God. Job nor his friends ever question the existence of God because it would be a self-defeating proposition.

Vs. 20 – Job wonders why God is still keeping him alive when he desires death so much. Why allow him to suffer like he has? Wouldn’t it be better for Job to be “put out of his misery” so to speak? This is a suffering man talking. Many who suffer reason this way. But the fact of the matter is that this is the pain talking, not the reasoning part of man. This is the emotion of suffering speaking and not the clear intellect of intelligence reasoning.

As we’ve mentioned, there is a more fundamental question here. Why is there suffering in the world at all? The book will examine various answers to this question and we can actually come to some conclusions about it in the end.

“Light” is symbolic of being able to “see.” If one can see, then one is alive. The one who is in misery is the one who is suffering. The one who is “bitter in soul” is also the one who is suffering. Hence, why do living people suffer?

Vs. 21 – Job describes the depth of the suffering. They are suffering so much that they would rather die. The symbolism that Job uses is that they desire death so much that they would mine it out of the earth as gold, silver, or other treasures in the earth. But we ought not to think from this that Job meant that if they had the opportunity to take their life, then they OUGHT to do it, merely that they would do anything to have it happen to them. There is a difference between actively pursuing death and passively pursuing it. This is intense and deep suffering.

Vs. 22 – Job describes those who desire death to rejoice when they find the grave. Well, one can’t literally and physically rejoice when one dies. This is again, figurative language describing the depth of suffering that Job is experiencing. It would be, in Job’s mind, a relief and a joy to be dead because that would mean that he wouldn’t be undergoing this intense suffering any longer. Of course, Job didn’t have the benefit of the revelation on this subject that we have today. We know that death is NO relief for the wicked, but that punishment awaits them (Matthew 25:30, 46). For the righteous, of course, there is a rest that is awaiting (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Vs. 23 – The same question is again repeated as was asked in verse 20; it is really an extension of the question asked in verse 20. Again, this question is the central theme of the book of Job. Why is there suffering in the world? The expression “whose way is hidden” here indicates someone who has an uncertain future. In Job’s particular case, it means this as a result of the great loss that he has experienced in losing his wealth and family. “Whom God has hedged in” in this context isn’t referring to great blessings (as we found in Job 1:10) but rather, to limitations. Job had a great hedge of limitations around him now. He couldn’t move due to his disease (Job 7:4); he couldn’t eat (Job 6:7, 33:20); he had no wealth; he was in great pain (Job 33:19); he had no friends or family to comfort him. He was now hedged with suffering instead of blessing, just the opposite of the condition in which he was in previously.

Vs. 24 – Job emphasizes that he does not have the ability to eat here. A better reading of this passage is in the ESV which says that Job’s sighing comes instead of his bread as opposed to the KJV, his sighings come before his bread. The idea is that Job hasn’t the strength to eat. It is a monumental effort to simply get bread, chew it, swallow it, and repeat the process. Job also would later say that he can’t even taste the food that he is given (Job 6:6,7).

Job’s “roarings” or “groanings” are “poured out like water.” The idea is that they come out fluidly and easily. There is no interference with them. They are freely given voice. Man normally suppresses his little aches and pains, but in Job’s condition he could not so suppress the voice to his sufferings. If one has ever visited a nursing home or hospital, then one can understand what Job means here. Frequenting the halls of such places one oft hears the sighs and groans of those who are in pain.

Vs. 25 – What is the thing that Job fears and dreads? The word “fear” isn’t used here as a verb, but as a noun. Hence, this must be referring to his current physical condition and sufferings. We shouldn’t take this statement to mean something that Job fears in the future, but rather something that he currently is experiencing. The thing that he fears is the condition that he is currently in. It is his intense suffering. He fears that it will continue moment after moment and that he will get no relief. Eliphaz expresses the same sentiment in Job 22:10 “Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee.” The calamities that Job had experienced were his “sudden fear.”

Vs. 26 – Job describes his physical state, which we have already alluded to above. He isn’t “at ease” because of the great pain that he is in. He isn’t “quiet” because of the moanings that flow out of him like water. He doesn’t have “rest” because his pain won’t allow him to sleep. The best that can be said of his situation is “trouble comes.” He’s had plenty of it and for the foreseeable future, that is all that he can expect; he sees no light at the end of the tunnel.

When we suffer, our situation may seem similar to Job’s. We may not see that light at the end of the tunnel. Nevertheless, with God, there is always hope. Psalm 71:5 says, “For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.” Jeremiah penned these words, “Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil” (Jeremiah 17:17). God is our only hope in this life; let us trust in Him always!

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