The messages of both John (3:2) & Jesus (4:17) include appeals for repentance. There is NO WAY around it the true call and the true response to following Jesus includes repentance, which means sorrow over sin (internal change) and living differently (external change).
John wasn’t against baptizing the Pharisees and Sadducees, he was against them getting baptized because it was the “in thing” to do (3:7, 9) When I got baptized as an 8th grader I only did it because that is what everyone did. That is wrong and it seems that is what John is implying these two groups are doing and John wants it clear, you get baptized your life must change, your life must bear fruit.
The three temptations of Jesus are always very fascinating to me here is my take on the three:
- The temptation to satisfy our physical needs (4:3)
- The temptation to satisfy our pride (4:5).
- The temptation to take the short cut and avoid the hard work (4:8).
The last temptation I see differently than I used to. I used to think this temptation was about giving Jesus power. But Jesus was going to get the power one way or the other. I now see this temptation as Satan trying to get Jesus to avoid the hard work, to take the easy way out, to avoid living the sacrificial life to get what was already rightfully His.
I think Satan tempts many of us in this same way. Heaven and eternal life have been promised to us and Satan tries to tell us, “You can get there without having to really make this sacrifice or that sacrifice.” “God doesn’t really expect you help there or serve here.” NONSENSE! Jesus took the long view and not the easy route and I’m glad He did because now as I take the long view I can get the Promised Land too.
One of those long view journeys Jesus calls us to participate in is to be fishers of men (4:19).
Witnessing to my neighbor, my co-worker, strangers is the natural outflow of truly following Jesus!
And my last thought: In some parts of the world we embrace the ministry of supernatural healing in our church, we need to embrace it more in the North American Division of the Church. Why? Because it was a MAJOR component of Jesus’ ministry (4:23, 24) oh and Ellen White’s too, how many times was she miraculously healed? Many!
Those are my thoughts on Matthew 3 & 4
Tomorrow’s Reading: Romans 5 & 6