Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Matthew 3

Matthew does not waste any words flattering John. John does not waste any words flattering the pharisees. His simple message is, "Flee the wrath to come." Would anyone today stick around for that message? Was it a better message then than it would be today?

"This is my beloved son in whom I am well-pleased." What would those words have meant to Jesus, or to any son, on the eve of his great trial in the wilderness? Was that phrase the subject of some of the spiritual meditation that he did in those 40 days? Did his being approved by God have anything to do with his eagerness to resist the enemy of God? What if I believed God accepted me, would that make any difference in my willingness to resist His enemy? Is resistance to temptation strengthened more by the knowledge of approval or by the hope that one can earn approval if he resists?

6 comments:

Tiff said...

This week I’m reading Leviticus, all of Leviticus, for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). Whew! But it’s amazing how the content of my readings overlap this morning.
Lev. Chapters 1-7 is the minute explanation of the sacrifices due God. At the end of the gory details is the statement “an offering, made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” The only human sacrifice that could be pleasing to God, enough to elicit forgiveness for all of mankind, would be a perfect one. Only Christ, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.”

Diane said...

I find it interesting that the Pharisees and Sad'ducees came to John the Baptist for baptism, but they would have nothing to do with Christ Himself, except to try to bait Him into committing what they considered to be blasphemy. What was their purpose in coming to John? Was it to make a great show of themselves? Why didn't they hate John as much as they hated Christ?

RevReav said...

It certainly wasn't because John was so nice. . . "you brood of vipers."

Anonymous said...

So, I'm wanting a little history lesson here. I've been looking up some things today trying to figure out what the history of baptism is. Why did the Pharisees come to John to be baptized? Was baptism something they were already doing? Was John preaching baptism or just repentance? Did they consider baptism a form of ceremonial cleansing? Lots of questions!
Molly

momby said...

Molly-

Did you find in your search the story of Naaman in 11 Kings 5? He is told to wash himself in the Jordan seven times to be healed from his leprosy. The word for 'wash' was translated in the Septuagent as baptidzo. Also, I believe baptism was practiced among the Essenes, as well as the pagans. I'm not sure what the Pharisees were after, but it is helpful to know the history of the Pharisees, whose origins are very sincere and faithful, the Hasidim who carried out the Maccabean revolt and who developed the doctrine of the Resurrection. Ironside identifies the faithful of this period with those referred to in Hebrews 11:38 : "Men of whom the world was not worthy." As with a lot of movements though, over generations, they lost their first love and became power brokers and law interpreters, the 'representatives' of the common people of Israel who were in opposition to the rich and priestly Sadducees and whoever the chosen Roman leader of Judea happened to be. I imagine they came to John because he also was making an appeal to common folk, so of course, they had to be involved to protect their base of influence. We know that John was widely recognized as a prophet by the people because Herod was hesitant to kill him for this reason in Matt. 14:5. Any leader who gained influence with the people was probably watched very closely by the Pharisees, as with Jesus Himself.

I don't know that John's baptism was understood very well in his day; he clearly states that it is for repentace and that he is only a precursor to the Messiah, but many of his followers did not immediately recognize Jesus when He arrived on the scene, and even into Acts this was a point of confusion for John's followers, even as far as Ephesus (Acts 19).

David said...

I was thinking how interesting it was that Jesus was preaching the same word as John...copying him, in fact. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Jesus also preached that exactly in chapter 4.