Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Emergence of the Beloved Son and His Temptation

The Silence

Luke 2:47 says that at age twelve Jesus amazed people with His words; we see in Matthew 13:56 that the people who saw Him grow up were amazed at His words and wondered where He got them.

“And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.” Luke 2:47

“And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” Matthew 13:56

To say that He did not speak openly because it was not His time would not explain the account found in Luke 2. One must wonder what happened in His life during those eighteen years of silence. What was life like for Him as He grew up? Was He shunned or ignored? Did He stop sharing in between? What happened in those eighteen years of silence? Did the people not pay attention to Him because He was a youth? Did they write Him off because He was a carpenter’s son, or because a carpenter Himself?

Though the scriptures are silent we are left with only fragments that shed some light on what life might have been like before His revealing at the river Jordan. Still we are left to speculate and wonder at what it was like for the darling of heaven as He lived in silence in Nazareth.

-Nazareth

-Prophecies

The name Nazareth is thought to derive from either the word na·tsar (נָצַר), meaning “to watch,” or ne·tser (נֵ֫צֶר), meaning “branch”, “flower”, or “offshoot”. If the latter then that would possibly shed light on Matthew 2:23’s prophecy.

“And came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:23

If it is ne·tser then that would mean Jesus could say “I come from the Branch” or “I am of the Branch”. If this train of thought be true then it is possible that the prophecy that Matthew was alluding to was that of the Messianic Branch.

“In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and adornment of the survivors of Israel.” Isaiah 4:2

“Then a shoot will spring up from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit.” Isaiah 11:1

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He will reign as King and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.’” Jeremiah 23:5

“‘In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.” Jeremiah 33:15

“And the angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, 7‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here. 8‘Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—  indeed they are men who are a symbol,  for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch .” Zechariah 3:6-8

“Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord.’” Zechariah 6:12

In Isaiah 9, Isaiah prophecies over two the tribes of Israel, Zebulun and Naphtali, that their reproach from the Lord would soon come to an end and great glorious blessing would come to them. A great light will come to the people by way of the sea, most likely the Sea of Galilee, this light being Jesus. This is the region where Jesus grew up and here lies Nazareth. Once again this too could be the prophecy that Matthew spoke of.

“But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Isaiah 9:1-2

-Location
Nazareth lies about 63 miles north of Jerusalem and during the time of Christ is thought to have been a more fertile farming land than a desert. Mount Megiddo lies about 11 miles west of Nazareth. Jesus would have grown up within a few miles of where the Battle of Armageddon was to take place at the end of the age. What was that like for Him?

“for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. 15(“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) 16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.” Revelation 16:14-16

-Upbringing

-Family Life

Following boy Jesus’ in the temple (Luke 2:41-51) Joseph seems to drop out of the picture. The main reason being that throughout Jesus’ ministry he is not seen or heard from and ultimately at the cross he is not there. Along with his absence Jesus on the cross hands over His responsibilities as the eldest son to His disciple John, this included watching over His mother Mary. If Joseph was alive or around still then this act would not be needed. The main reason why the idea of Joseph leaving the family is not logical is primarily with how he is remembered by the disciple Matthew.

“And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man…” Matthew 1:19

Along with His cousin John, Jesus also grew up with four different brothers and multiple sisters (the number is not mentioned). Jesus being the eldest would have had the responsibility of taking care of the family if Joseph were to die.

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” Matthew 13:55-56

From what we see at the cross His mother Mary was still actively involved with His life even to the point of the cross, and His brothers would go on to be leaders in the New Testament church.

-Go to school or get a job?

Jesus is known as the son of the carpenter which points to that He would have worked under Joseph.

“And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” Luke 4:22

Though He is not openly called a carpenter it is highly suggested that He worked as one instead of going to school. This would explain why the people were confused on where His wisdom and understanding came from. This leaves us with the notion that He grew up very simple. He was known in His hometown which means there were probably not a lot of carpenters, thus the son of one would be easily remembered, especially if He had worked as one as well.

-The Cousins

Given their relationship as cousins it is likely that both John and Jesus knew of each other. Though the question of how acquainted they were with each other still remains in question.

“Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ Matthew 3:14

What we do know is that when John saw Jesus coming up to him he seemed aware of who Jesus was to some degree. But at the same time he did not recognize who He fully was.

“This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me. 31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.’ 32 John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’” John 1:30-33

However John makes it clear that John the Baptist did not recognize who Jesus really was until he saw the sign of the Holy Spirit descending upon and remaining upon Him. Given the two accounts it would seem as though John knew that Jesus was special to some degree, though at the same time not fully until the sign was given. This could be that as a youth his parents would tell him of the uniqueness of his birth as well as the uniqueness of his cousin’s. It could also be that they at one point would interact with each other while growing up and/or before they started their ministries. Another reason is that while in the wilderness John had received some form of revelation about His cousin. Or even at the point of seeing Jesus walking up to him the partial revelation of the uniqueness of Jesus came to him, but was not fully revealed until the sign of the Holy Spirit’s descent upon Jesus.

“Regarding the tension between Matthew’s account and John’s account (the former implying former knowledge, the latter implying none) can be resolved by postulating that John was aware of the promises given at Jesus’ birth and His greatness, but had not yet received the sign given him by the Father to confirm that Jesus was in fact the one he had called to prepare the way for.”[1]

As previously discussed; during the silence John had received the word of the Lord and was now proclaiming repentance. More than just any message of repentance but one declaring that the coming of the Lord and of His Kingdom drew nigh. He was also drawing in many to be baptized; which was the ritual washing for those who desired to convert to Judaism.

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus would begin His ministry about thirty years of age. Given their approximate six months difference in age, this would leave John to be about thirty years old as well.

“When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age…” Luke 3:23

 

This would then mean John to be just a few months into his ministry.

Down at the Jordan

While baptizing in the Jordan River John saw Jesus approaching him, having come from Nazareth in Galilee where He had spent the last thirty years. After roughly eighteen years of silence concerning the life of Christ everything begins to shift. Suddenly out of Nazareth a man came to the Jordan River to be baptized. It was the Christ

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan” Mark 1:9

-The Two Accounts

In the Gospel of Matthew John tries to stop Jesus from approaching him to be baptized by acknowledging that Jesus was of a higher rank than he.

13“Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ 15But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he *permitted Him. Matthew 3:13-15

In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist states that the Lord had given him a sign to reveal to him who the One who was to come after him was. John goes on to state that when Jesus approached him that he did not recognize Him until he saw the sign of the spirit descending and remaining upon Him.

30“This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me. 31I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.’ 32John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’” John 1:30-33

Here we see a contradiction where Matthew says that John recognized Him and John says that he did not recognize Him. It is in my opinion that both are right.  I would say that Matthew is right because, John in some way would have known his cousin, of His miraculous conception and birth. I highly doubt those stories would not have been told to him. Thus he would have grown up knowing there was something special about his cousin Jesus and that He was destined for greatness. John would be right in if John the Baptist was given a sign to reveal the One who came after then He would not know fully who it was until he saw the sign. Though it would be safe to assume that he was constantly searching and asking the Lord of the One who was to come, to where when Jesus would walk forward his antenna would be up because of previous experiences with Him.

-The Baptism

The Baptism of Christ. Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci. c.1472-1475

As previously discussed concerning John’s baptism, it was a call to repentance and to become real Jews that are circumcised of heart and not just flesh. This was offensive to a Jewish man or woman, as they were being told they were not true Jews.

With that being said why would Jesus who has never sinned take part in the baptism of sinners? I have heard some say that Jesus was being spiritually washed as a priest, but that would be inaccurate as that was not what John’s was. His baptism was very specific in nature, hence why John at first wanted to resist. The reality is though Jesus never sinned, He did receive the baptism. It does not say He repented, because obviously there was nothing to repent too, it would seem that it was merely a sign of solidarity. In other words He would simply be saying, “See I am both circumcised of heart and of the flesh” or rather that He both agreed and partnered with John’s message of repentance and circumcision of heart.

13“Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ 15But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he *permitted Him. Matthew 3:13-15

 

-Behold the Son

Coming up from the water we see the famous Trinitarian scene. Here we see the Holy Spirit show up in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father declaring His affection upon His beloved Son.

16After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’ Matthew 3:16-17

 

Here at the baptism we see the Father respond to both the humanity and the deity of Christ. Before entering into the temptation of the wilderness where Satan will attack His Sonship, the Father affirms Christ as His Beloved Son.

In addition the Father responds to the humility of His only begotten Son by declaring how proud of Him He is. Upon seeing the humility of the Beloved Son as He submitted to the John’s baptism was a thing of beauty. What was heaven like seeing the Word made flesh make His declaration of submission to purity and circumcision of heart through John baptism? He did not have to but still He did. He knew no sin yet He submitted to the call of circumcision of heart. He knew John was the one who had been leading the call to repentance and circumcision of heart and that He would need to submit to the one who was entrusted to lead in the moment. Along with that, but in order to begin His ministry He chose to come under John’s method of baptism.

Oh the beauty of the humility of the Beloved Son who chose to submit Himself to the current spiritual leader John and to His baptism. No wonder heaven could not be silent, no wonder the Father could not keep quiet, and no wonder why the Holy Spirit could not restrain Himself.

Matthew states that the Father says “This is My Beloved Son…” where as Mark and Luke say “You are My Beloved Son…” Though Matthew disagrees with the language used by his contemporaries, it does not interfere with the story. Whether it is the declaration to the Son or to the audience, the point still remains that the Father is proud of His Beloved Son.

21Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’” Luke 3:21-22

9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.10Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’” Mark 1:9-11

 

In order to fully grasp the profundity of this moment one must take the time to truly soak it all in. Here in this one scene we see the greatness of Christ’s humility, the Father’s overwhelmed affection towards His Son and the Holy Spirit’s desire to draw near to the lowly. If the humility of Christ’s baptism is not enough then surely the thirty years of hiddenness and His subjection to His earthly family is truly a thing to cause one to marvel. Just one scene captured in the gospels or not should cause one to be left reeling in awe.

Into the Wilderness

Following this remarkable moment, Jesus led by the Spirit enters into the wilderness to fast and pray for forty days and nights enters into temptation. Having been affirmed in His Sonship by His Father, Jesus enters into the hardest temptation ever. While at His weakest, Lucifer himself shows up to tempt Christ at the end of His forty day fast.

Immediately the Spirit *impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.” Mark 1:12-13

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.” Matthew 4:1-2

For the sake of not going into a deep Christological discussion, though Jesus in His divinity could not be tempted, in His humanity could be. How that works is a mystery. All we can say is that Jesus did endure a real temptation, it was not easy but nor was it hard.

“This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32

“By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,” Ephesians 3:4

-The Temptations

the-temptation-of-christ-(Tintoretto) (1579-1581).jpg!Blog

Have some bread-
Satan’s first temptation was to focus in on Christ’ physical hunger as an attack on His physically weakened state, being found in his human form.

3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:3-4

Tentaciones de Cristo (Botticelli) (1481-82) (Zoomed in)Wanna go for a jump-
For Satan’s second temptation he attacks Christ’s identity as the Beloved Son. In the first two temptations Satan says “If You are the Son of God…” this being an obvious attack on Christ’s identity as a Son, but the second is directly focused on His identity. Satan is in essence saying “Prove that You are the Beloved Son.”Jesus in His weekend state would most likely be leaning into the audible voice from His father just forty days earlier. Notice that here Satan is quoting a scripture at Christ and as is Christ’s method He responds by leaning into the truth of His Word.


5“Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” 7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:5-7

I’ll make You famous-
The Temptation on the Mount (Duccio) (1308 and 1311)For Satan’s final attempts, he seeks to tempt Christ with all the wealth of nations, if He would only worship him. This is an attack on Christ’s patience because he knows Christ will inherit it all and more, if He remains patient. For the patient one will receive a great inheritance when they remain in subjected to the will of their Father. Satan is in a way seeking to get Christ to abandon service to His Father and get a cheaper, lesser and impure inheritance than that which He was meant to have; this is similar to that of the prodigal son. One could say that Jesus is the Son who remained unlike the prodigal and did not become jealous of the younger (us) like the older did.

“And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Luke 4:5-8

Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” 11Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.” Matthew 4:8-11

 

With all three temptations Christ leans into the truth of the Word, as that which sustained Him.

‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

In the Temptations we see Christ resisting His own fleshly desires for food, wealth and glory or rather gluttony, greed and pride. It is safe to say that He endured the temptations of all seven of the deadly sins.

  1. Sloth- He did not give in to lethargic spirit but pressed in, in prayer.
  1. Lust- He did not lust or covet the kingdoms offered him.
  2. Greed- He did not demand anything that was not His but looked to that which He was to inherit.
  3. Pride- He did not give into the temptation of proving or rather boasting in His identity.
  4. Wrath- He did not get into the fleshly anger.
  5. Gluttony- He resisted the hunger of the flesh.
  6. Envy- He did not envy Satan’s control over the kingdoms of the World, because He knew it would become His.

Jesus Ministered to by Angels (Jésus assisté par les anges) (James_Tissot) (1886 and 1894)

Following the temptations the angels come to minister to Him. To say that the temptations and the fasting of Christ was nothing more than a walk in the park is a statement of ignorance. Christ was exhausted and weak. He was tired and hungry. He was in need of someone coming to minister to Him.

What a site that must have been for the angels to look down and see the Darling of Heaven drained. To see Him exhausted and in need of help. O’ the humility of God to once again be in need of creation to help Him. When beholding the beauty of this scene one cannot simply read through it without taking the time to soak in the magnitude of what has transpired. God fought on behalf of creation.

Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. Matthew 4:11

When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. Luke 4:13

A key thing to notice is in Luke it says “…until the opportune time.” This clearly points to a future temptation/attack from Satan. It would be safe to say that it was most likely pointing to the temptation to give in, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the trial or the Cross.

-Correlation between the Temptations and The Garden of Gethsemane

-In the Temptations Christ

  • Christ is tempted to give in to His own fleshly desires/will.
  • He is left alone.
  • He must trust in God’s will that He would inherit all things without needing to compromise. He resists the fleshes will of shortcutting.
  • Afterwards angels come to minister to Him.
  • A transition happens as His ministry begins.

-Garden of Gethsemane

  • Christ is tempted to give in to His own fleshly desires/will.
  • Everyone falls asleep and He is left alone.
  • He must trust in God’s will and not His fleshes will.
  • Afterwards angels come to minister to Him.
  • A transition happens as His ministry is coming to an end.

To Be Continued- The Beginning of Christ’s Ministry


[1] Stephen Venable, Life of Christ in the Gospels: Session 05- Emergence, p24