January 8 – Chronological Life of Jesus Day 6
It happened so fast; a couple days ago he was just a little boy, but now Jesus is all grown up. All four gospels are mute on what Jesus did between the ages of 12 (Luke 2:42-42) and 30 (today’s reading). Being God’s One and Only Son, it seems like his whole life should be important, and we should have a play-by-play biography of every minute. Why do you think the gospel authors chose to leave out this part of Jesus’ life? I have no idea; that’s why I’m asking you.
READ: Matthew 3
Today we fast forward about 30 years from Jesus’ birth. All four gospels cover the story of John the Baptist that we find in our reading today from Matthew 3 (Mark 1:1-13, Luke 3:1-18, John 1:15-36). Repetition means importance, and this is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry after all, so we’ll look at all four accounts together and compare and contrast.
First, more fulfilled prophecy—all four gospels mention the fulfillment of prophecy from Isaiah 40:3 manifest in John the Baptist. John the Baptist outright claims in John 1:13 that he’s the guy Isaiah 40:3 is talking about: “’I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’’” Mark’s version adds another fulfilled prophecy manifest in John the Baptist, this one from Malachi 3:1. And don’t forget from our reading last week that Zechariah’s (John the Baptist’s dad) prophecy in Luke 1:76-79 is also fulfilled in today’s reading. That’s my God at work, keeping promises in an explosive celebration of the beginning of His Son’s ministry!
How exactly is John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus? Matthew’s account focuses on the repentance of sins (Matthew 3:2 and 3:6). In other words, he is preaching to the Jews in the country all around the Jordan River to admit they are sinners and confess their sins in preparation for what is coming. This is similar to our first step in becoming Christians. Mark and Luke add repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3). So, not just admitting that we are sinners but more—a hope that we can actually be forgiven of our sins. Think about this: the Old Testament is full of stories of sinners, rules, and rule-breaking. From the perspective of the Biblical calendar that’s 2000+ years of nothing but sin separating us from God. But now, in what John the Baptist is preaching, there is hope for the first time—the potential for forgiveness of our sins, breaking down the sin wall between us and God. John the Baptist was planting the seed of hope in the Jews’ hearts! As a symbol of cleansing to prepare their hearts for Jesus who would forgive their sins, he baptized these Jews in the Jordan River.
In John the Baptist’s preaching, he talks about producing good fruit in Matthew 3:10 and Luke 3:9-14. What do you think he meant and what did this have to do with preparing the way for Jesus?
The fireworks are about to begin as Jesus walks into the picture. Now, Jesus and John are relatives, right? We read about Mary and Elizabeth being relatives in Luke 1:36, and these are their sons. But nothing in all four accounts indicates that they know one another as family. In fact, in John 1:31, John the Baptist says, “’I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’” Each gospel describes an awesome scene as Jesus asks John to baptize him—the heavens open up, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove flies down and lands on Jesus, then a voice thunders from heaven, “This is My Son, Whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” The whole crowd should have believed after that show! But the gospels are mute on the crowd’s reaction, or even if there was a crowd. At that moment, it’s not important. What is important is that God has introduced His Son to begin his ministry on earth. Maybe you and I are the crowd. We get to see the whole show and know that Jesus is the Son of God!
There are still people who don’t know You. Lots of those people! And there is still a wall separating them from You. My God forgives! Everyone needs to know about this hope!
Thank You for the hope I have in forgiveness of my sins and thank You for Jesus pulverizing that wall between me and You. I know Your heart breaks for those who don’t know that there is a hope, that You are a God who forgives. Please, Lord, help me reach them for You, as many as You place in my path, first in my home and then in my ever-wider circles. Help me to be bold for You like John the Baptist.
If there is anyone reading this post who does not know that you can be forgiven, no matter what yuck is in your life, I am praying for you to embrace this truth, to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, he took the punishment for your sins so that you can be saved. And when you believe this, there is nothing separating you from living in heaven with God forever. I pray that you would become a child of God. And that would make me your sister! This is the most important thing to take from the whole Bible, and I pray that you would believe it. I pray for your salvation in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ!