‘And the child grew, and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him’
“And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ Matthew 3:17
In our last study in the holy book of the Gospel, we heard the lovely story of the Messiah’s birth.
No one has ever been born as Jesus was.
He was born of a virgin, by the power of God, in the town of Bethlehem, exactly as the prophets had prophesied.
On the night that Jesus was born,
God sent a multitude of shining angels to some shepherds who were spending the night in the fields surrounding Bethlehem. One of the angels said to the shepherds, “I bring you
good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11)
We plan to study what Jesus was like as a child and as He became an adult. The book of the Gospel shows us that following the birth of Jesus,
The child Jesus grew up with his younger brothers and sisters in a crowded house in northern Palestine, in the town of Nazareth. As you know, Joseph did not beget Jesus, but in the eyes of men, Jesus was the son of Joseph. Since Joseph was a carpenter, Jesus also worked as a carpenter while He lived at home (Mark 6:3). Consequently,
Jesus was accustomed to hard work.
Thus the Scripture says: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
Like all children, Jesus ate and slept, played and studied. However, there was something about Him that made Him different from other children. Do you know what it was? It is this:
Jesus never committed sin!
No unjust word ever came out of His mouth.
(1 Pet. 2:22) He never told anyone, “Forgive my faults”, because He never wronged anyone. He could not commit sin, because there was no root of sin in Him! He had a holy nature (character). Evil was not a part of Him.
He had a physical body like ours, but He did not have an evil nature like ours! That is what the Scriptures declare, when they say: “We have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:14,15)
When Jesus was
thirty years old,
the time for Him to begin His work as the Savior of the world had come. One day He bid farewell to his family, left the town of Nazareth, and headed for the Jordan River where the prophet John was preaching and baptising the people in water.
Do you remember John who was born six months before Jesus?
John was the prophet whom God sent to prepare the hearts of people, so that they might repent of their sins and welcome the Messiah whom God had sent. Listen to what is written in the Gospel concerning the prophet John and how he prepared the way of the Messiah.
The Scripture says: (Matt. 3:1-6) “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying,
Repent; for the kingdom of God is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet, Isaiah, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about the Jordan, and were baptised by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins”
Let us pause here to think about what we are reading.
In brief, John preached: “Repent of your sins! Turn from your evil deeds, and prepare to meet the holy Messiah who has come to you from heaven!” Those who confessed their sins before God were baptised by John in the river. Thus, the prophet John became known as John the Baptist. Being baptised in water could not wash away the people’s sins.
It was only a sign
which showed that they had repented of their sins and were ready to receive the Messiah as their Saviour.
Some of those who responded to John so that he might baptise them, belonged to the two most famous groups of the Jews. Those two groups were the Sadducees and the Pharisees.
The Sadducees were the wealthiest Jews
and had influence in the Roman government. But in their hearts they did not care about the Holy Scriptures.
The Pharisees were the religious experts
who were very zealous in praying, fasting, giving alms and paying tithes. However, their worship was worthless, because they were trying to become righteous before God by their own efforts. Also, the Pharisees mixed their traditions with the true Word of God. Consequently, their worship of God had become nothing more than a flashy show combined with contempt for those who did not belong to them. In short, the Pharisees and the Sadducees honoured God with their lips, but
their hearts were far from Him.
Now then, let us continue to read in the Gospel and hear how John rebuked these religious experts because of their hypocrisy. The Scripture says: (Matt. 3:7-15) “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Saduccees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore,
fruits befitting repentance.
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham as our father; for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore, every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I, indeed, baptise you with water unto repentance, but
he who cometh after me is mightier than I,
whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the granary, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Then cometh Jesus
from Galilee to the Jordan unto John, to be baptised by him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptised of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Permit it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he consented to him”.
Perhaps some might ask, “Why did Jesus, who was without sin, ask John to baptise Him?” It is true, the Lord Jesus did not need to repent of anything, because He had never committed sin. Why then did Jesus come to John, so that John might baptise Him as he was baptising sinners? What did Jesus say about this? Jesus said to John, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” By being baptised, Jesus not only put before us an example to follow, but He also showed us that
He came to live as one of us and to die for us.
In the end of the chapter, the Scripture says: (Matt. 3:16,17) “And Jesus, when he was baptised, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying,
This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased”.
Whose voice was it that echoed from the sky? It was the voice of the LORD God! What did God say? God said of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” We have already read in the Holy Scriptures how the prophet David and the angel Gabriel called the Messiah
Now we hear how God Himself calls Jesus, “my Son, whom I love!” Why did God call Jesus His Son? As we have already seen, Jesus is called the Son of God because He came directly from heaven. Jesus had no earthly father. God placed His Eternal Word in the womb of a virgin. Here we see another reason Jesus is called the Son of God.
How is Jesus different from the children of Adam? This is how He is different from us. Everyone descended from Adam has a nature stained by sin, but Jesus’ nature was unstained by sin. He did not have a single sin, because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit of God. The Messiah took on a body like ours, but He did not take on our sinful nature.
He had a holy and perfect nature!
That is why God, the Holy One, could take pleasure in Jesus, as a father takes pleasure in an obedient, faithful son. It is said that the son is the shadow of the father. Whoever sees the son knows what his father is like. Similarly, whoever knows Jesus, knows what God is like, because Jesus is the One who came from God to display God’s nature. No one has ever seen God, but the Messiah has made Him known! Jesus is the only human who had a holy nature, because He is the only One who was conceived by the holy Spirit of God! That is why God was not ashamed to make His voice echo from heaven, saying,
“This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased!”
In the rest of this lesson, we will begin reading in chapter four to see what happened after John baptised Jesus. The Scripture says: (Matt. 4:1-11) “Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him,
If thou be the Son of God,
cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him,
It is written again,
Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the test. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceedingly high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and saith unto him, all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Begone, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord, thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him”.
Satan tried to entice Jesus to obey him and sin. All three times Jesus answered the devil by quoting the Word of God. As Satan tempted Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden, so also, Satan tempted the Lord Jesus to sin in the wilderness. But Jesus did not sin.
Why did the devil tempt Jesus?
Because he knew that Jesus was the holy Redeemer who had come from heaven to earth to save the children of Adam from his dominion. Satan also knew that if Jesus were to commit a single sin, Jesus could not save the children of Adam from the dominion of sin. Thus Satan harassed Jesus, attempting to deceive Him. But
Yes, Satan overcame and corrupted our ancestors, Adam and Eve, but he could not overcome the holy Son of God. The Lord Jesus could not sin because God cannot sin.
Like Father, like Son.
Jesus was the living and powerful Word of God in a human body. God sent Him into the world to deliver the children of Adam from the power of Satan and the penalty of sin. Only the Lord Jesus can deliver us from Satan and sin, because only He overcame
Satan and sin.
That is why the Scripture says of the Messiah: “For such an high priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first unto his own sins and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (Heb. 7:26,27)
In our next study we will see why the disciples of the prophet John left him to follow Jesus.
May God give you insight into all that we have read today. We end with this verse from Holy Scripture:
“And ye know that [Jesus Christ] was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5).
We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any questions that you might have