| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 52 - Page 75 of 207 Index | Zoom | |
This baptism had a direct message for Israel in showing that their Messiah had come
and brought them under responsibility in their attitude towards Him. The voice of the
Father from heaven richly confirmed His anointings. "This is my beloved Son in Whom
I am well pleased." Each manifestation of the Godhead is represented here (Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit) as the formal entrance of the Lord upon His Messianic ministry. The
Lord Jesus said "I do always those things that please Him" (the Father, John 8: 29),
words which could not be uttered with truth by any human being. The Father's
declaration is repeated at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17: 5) and shows the constant
unchanging worthiness of the Son of God.
With this account of the Lord's baptism, the Baptizer's witness as a prelude to the
Christ's earthly ministry closes. John the Baptist was very much like Elijah of the O.T.
and was designated so before his birth by the angel who declared that he would go "in the
spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children . . . . ."
(Luke 1: 17). In appearance he looked like Elijah and dressed like him. He ate frugally
and lived a strict, self-controlled life. Like Elijah too he was fearless and without
partiality, being ready to denounce kings and rulers when they erred from God's ways, as
well as correct and educate the ordinary people. As to whether he actually fulfilled
Malachi's prophecy concerning Elijah we shall have to consider as we study this Gospel.
We now come to the third item in this section of Matthew's Gospel and that is the
record of the threefold temptation of the Lord Jesus. The word `tempt' means to test and
it is not surprising that the Lord was tested by the devil immediately after His baptism
which signaled the beginning of His Messianic work. This is a frequent experience of
those who step out into the open for Christ. Satan desires to "sift them" as he did Peter
later on to ruin their work if possible.
Matthew 4: tells us that Christ was "led of the Spirit" into the wilderness. Mark's
account gives a stronger word (ekballei) "drives" ("sent Him out", N.I.V.). It was a
strong compulsion of the Holy Spirit that led Christ to go into the desert to contend with
the foe who is designated "the god of this age". This attack by Satan was nothing less
than an attempt by him to overthrow the Messiah at the very beginning of His public
career and witness, as the agony in the garden was a similar attempt to overthrow Him at
the end of His witness and prevent Him reaching the cross and accomplishing His mighty
work of redemption.
Satan never gives up nor does he tire. Eph. 6: teaches us concerning the constant
warfare with the powers of darkness and the Lord Jesus was not exempt from this.
Matthew tells us that after fasting 40 days and being in a state of hunger, the devil
came to Him. He was completely alone with none to help and Mark adds the fact that He
was "with the wild beasts" so there was an element of danger as well. The evil one
knows the best time to attack is a time of physical weakness. The change of scene here is
mental. We need not assume that Satan literally moved the Lord from place to place.
From a high mountain only a fraction of the world could be seen, but the glory of all the
kingdoms of the world could be suggested to the mind. The tests came from the outside