The Gospel of Matthew
Jim Deering, AncientPath.net
This study includes portions of the Scriptures from the other Gospels in order to fill in the time-line of events that Matthew does not include in his Gospel.
4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 4:2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
Please notice that The Spirit led Jesus to these tests! God the Father's plan included the "face-off" between His Son the Creator and His highest created being who was thrown from that exulted position when He turned from God to thinking he himself was a god. The Greek is explicit -- Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness IN ORDER TO, FOR THE PURPOSE OF BEING, tempted by the devil."
There are Two major viewpoints concerning the Temptation:
1. That Christ COULD have sinned but WOULD not, or He could have sinned but DID not.
Those who hold this view argue that He could have sinned if He had allowed Himself to give in, but somehow He held out against Satan, but after a struggle ("suffered being tempted" is so interpreted in Hebrews 2:18).
There are many objections to this view but chiefly this. If our Lord could have sinned then, He could sin now (or at any time in the future), and slide off His throne, bringing chaos to the spiritual universe. We say this because His natures (human and divine) have not -- and will not -- change. Thus, by this viewpoint one's salvation could never be secure or eternal, for Christ might sin at some future time. If He could have sinned while on earth.
2. That Christ could NOT have sinned.
The line of proof is: Our Lord had two natures as incarnate. His deity nature could not sin, nor be tempted to sin according to James 1:13. His human nature was likewise incapable of sin, because it was conceived of God. (Indeed, the new nature we believers receive in the new birth cannot sin. The old nature cannot do anything but sin; the new nature cannot sin, because it partakes of the nature of God.)
If it be said: "God created Adam holy and he sinned, so Christ could have sinned," Let it be replied: "God created Adam innocent, not holy. By obedience, he could have become holy; by disobedience, he could have become sinful. He chose the later.
"Further, our Lord was not created; He was procreated (that is, He was begotten of God -- partaking in His human nature of the nature of the One who begat Him, i.e., His Father by the Spirit through the virgin womb of Mary). Thus, He was just as incapable of sin as we, in our old nature, are incapable of righteousness (Romans 3:9-20; 8:7; Ecclesiastes 7:20). It was contrary to His NATURE to sin."
But someone may ask; "What then does Hebrews 4:15 mean? Does it not say that in spite of temptation our Lord did not sin?" No, it says no such thing. It does not say, as most minds mentally supply, that "He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sinning." It says He can sympathize with our every sinless infirmity because "apart from sin, HE was put to the test" in everything affecting infirmity. Infirmity is not sin. Christ is not sympathetic with our sins (He detests them and disciplines us for them, 1 Corinthians 11:31-32).
Thus, the passage (Heb 4:15) means Christ was hungry, tired, tried, betrayed, disappointed, etc., and experienced physical weakness and terrible pain. So, no matter what infirmity we are called to bear, Christ can sympathize with us, for He was the Man of Sorrows. It is true that in our time of weakness (testing), we are most susceptible to temptation to sin, but that is because we have an old nature. He was not susceptible, though Satan thought He would be and attached at His "weakest"; moment of infirmity (after 40 days of fasting, Matthew 4:2). It is evident that the phrase (Gk, Xoris hamartias, xwri hamartiaj) "yet without sin" does not have the thought usually attributed to it, as a comparison of the same phrase in Hebrews 9:28 will show (Second coming ref: "... a second time ... will appear without sin"). Obviously, in each case, it means "apart from sin," i.e., sin is not the issue in question, and might be paraphrased "entirely apart from the sin question."
"But," someone else may say, "Hebrews 2:18 says Christ suffered in temptation, thus He experienced a moral struggle." We answer: "No, the verse does not say that. It does not say that He suffered, like we do, IN the very process of temptation. (Temptation is a very painful experience to us -- the very process of struggling so say "no.") The verse rather says (Gk, autos peirastheis, autos peirasthei$ ) "He suffered BEING tempted."
A son who really loved his banker father would be scandalized, pained, grieved, and insulted if some friend, working in that bank with him, took him aside and tried to persuade him to betray his father and steal from savings accounts in the bank. He would not struggle against the temptation and find it hard to say "no" (i.e., "suffer in the temptation"); but he would suffer in the fact that anyone would dream he would be so disloyal and treacherous as to cheat his father (i.e., "suffer, being tempted"). If an earthly son would be pained by such a suggestion from a thief, how do you think the Heavenly Son felt in response to Satan's attempt to have Him betray His beloved Father? You guessed it -- "GET THEE HENCE!" Get out before I throw you out (Matthew 4:10).
In both Hebrews passages cited earlier it is our Lord's; merciful High Priesthood which is the context. What we need, when tempted, is succor (to bring relief) not sympathy (2:18). In our infirmity, we may be tempted to sin, but infirmity is not sin. Thus, He sympathizes with us in our infirmities, and succors us when Satan, taking advantage of our infirmities, seeks to solicit us to sin. Thus, His mercy is evidenced."...
These verses are included to show us that the temptations were ... NOT TO SEE IF CHRIST WOULD SIN, BUT TO PROVE THAT HE COULD NOT."
Before creation Eternity (past) is the abode of God alone, as three distinct persons in the single personality of God. (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. With creation comes the Angelic realms and with these free will beings comes the opportunity of sin - the choosing of "not God." That opportunity is taken by the Angel Lucifer as well as a following of lesser angels and the plan of God is put into motion. Unfortunately, because of their high creation, the Angels can not participate in a plan of salvation. A completely holy vessel can no longer be used for holy purposes after being despoiled. Along with that is the fact that nowhere in the Scriptures is any mention of any angel seeking restoration - instead we see the continuing battle against God by those who fell. The choice of God or not-God is binding in the angelic creature as well as in the Creator.
Several good authors have put forth the idea that the temptations of Christ concern a misconception that Lucifer holds to. That misconception is in thinking that he can manipulate Jesus into a position of the self-desire for the whole power of God and a turning away from His heavenly Father in rebellion to "take the Kingdom of God for Himself," just as Lucifer had tried to do. Lucifer, apparently still deceived by his own self-centeredness, thinks as only a creature can think. If he was as the Christ - he would know of the eternal unity that every member of the Godhead participates in, and that the division of One God is impossible.
Because Lucifer does not see this he enters into this series of attempts to persuade Jesus into rebellion with His eternal heavenly Father. I think the evidence presented in the Scriptures is conclusive that this is the case.
Satan's knowledge of God is limited, just as our knowledge of angels is limited. Because he has never been God he cannot comprehend His creator. Perhaps Lucifer's dealings with a loving, longsuffering, just and righteous God led him to surmise that God was weak and therefore he could overthrow Him. Whatever the case, Lucifer has completely deceived himself into think He can in fact overthrow Him - and His Kingdom (those who choose God instead of 'not-God').
What does Satan know about Jesus? We can point to three exceptional things:
1 - he knows that Jesus is God,
2 - he knows that Jesus is man,
3 - he knows some of God's plan for the ages.
What is he thinking? Something like, "I bet I could expect the Son of God to "grab" the full authority of God. We'll see that word "grab" later in Scripture. And we'll see more on this theme as we go along.
SATAN ACCORDING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
At the threshold of Christ's ministry on earth, Satan met Him in the wilderness. There is mystery concealed in this encounter which, it is probable, extends to realms of angelic reality. It also penetrates into the "hypostatic" (hypostasis: essential substance or essence) union of the two natures in Christ (Deity and human). The temptation is apparently within the sphere of His humanity and suggests the exercise of the human features -- body, soul, and spirit -- in their adjustment to the presence and exactingness of His Deity. Into that sphere of relationship the human mind may not enter; yet the clear statement which the Bible sets forth should be accepted. Without doubt these supernatural issues are within the range of Satan's understanding, and afford a wide field for conflict which human experience cannot parallel. The features of the situation are faithfully presented.
Christ being filled with the Spirit, He is led of the Spirit into the wilderness and there undergoes a time of fellowship and teaching with His counterpart - The Holy Spirit of God - which continued forty days and nights. Then Satan comes and presents a threefold suggestion (and it is good to remember that all Satan's suggestions are always wrong - regardless of how "right" they may sound at the time). What man needs first is the Will of God, not bread (Matthew 6:33).
See Addendum 010
Lucifer, Satan, The Evil One, The Snake, etc.
4:2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 4:3 And the tempter approached Him and said to Him, "Since you are the Son of God (Gk, ie uios ie tou theou, ie uio$ ie tou theou ... "since Son, since The God"), then speak, in order that these stones should become loaves."
4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written: MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD (Gk, aptoi, aptoi, loaves) ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD (Gk, ramati, rhmati) THAT PROCEEDS THROUGH (lit.) THE MOUTH OF GOD (DEUTERONOMY 8:3)."
The first satanic request involved the breaking down of that separation which Christ faithfully preserved between His deity and His humanity. If the common demands of food and drink were supernaturally supplied by His Deity He would not be in all points tested as are His followers in this world.
At the end of the 40 day period in the wilderness Jesus is physically hungry. He's apparently been fasting in order to keep His full attention on the matters important to the Spirit of God. Then He is visited by Satan, the Evil One. Apparently Satan believes that Jesus is indeed starving and in need of immediate refreshment and restoration. He is very aware of Jesus' flesh but, apparently, not aware that Jesus has the full authority of the Christ, since He has gone into the wilderness and became hungry.
(Note: There are a couple mentions of the grouping of 40 days. The most remembered is this one in Matthew, Mark and Luke. There is also the journey of Elijah from the wilderness near Beersheba, in Judah, where he fled for his life from Ahab and Jezebel. An Angel fed him there and he fled another 40 days without food until he found a cave in Mt. Horeb (Sinai). It was there that The Lord came to him and asked, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Elijah responded with his well known answer - poor me, "I am the lone prophet left, and they seek my life." The Lord sends him to Damascus and makes him Prophet over the new king Aram (1 Kings 19).
(Note: In order to more fully understand the temptation verses we need to know about the part of speech that is known as a "conditional." In this case the Greek language, even though more specific than English, uses context to decipher certain parts of speech and the "conditionals" are some of those. This description is a little lengthy, so please bear with me on this.
The conditional statement begins with the "If" conditional and always expects a "Then" response. Conditional statements are asked or stated for the sake of argument (to promote discussion). The statements are not statements of fact, per. se., but interactive statements that encourage more thought. There is much overlap in the meanings and "context is everything" when discussing their meanings. There are four major types of conditionals and here is a little about how they work.
The First Class Condition - the "simple" condition assumes that the premise stated in the "If - Then" statement is true.
"If I am going to enter into a discussion with you and I want you to consider my supposition as true then I will make my statement in such a way that you will consider that."
Example: "If God so loved us, then we ought also to love one another" (1 John 4:11). [Appropriately restated: "Since God so loved us, then we ought also to love one another"].
The Second Class Condition - The "Contrary-to-Fact condition" assumes that the premise stated is false.
Example: (Jesus said) "If my kingdom were of this world (but it is not), then my attendants would be fighting...." (Luke 7:39)
Language is a portrayal of reality from the speaker's perspective. Jesus makes this statement because His kingdom IS NOT of this world. If it was, His attendants would be fighting for Him. The way the statement is phrased makes the listener/reader see some truth through a seemingly false statement.
The Third Class Condition - The "condition stated is probable in the future."
Example: "If you would confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and would believe in you heart that God raised Him from the dead, (then) you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
The key element here in this conditional is the word "would." It introduces an element of "Probability" into the argument. If that probability is positive it expresses the Third Class of conditionals.
The Fourth Class Condition - The condition stated is remotely possible in the future.
Example: "But even if you should suffer on account of righteousness, (then) blessed are you." (1 Peter 3:14)
The key element in this statement is the two words, "even" and "should." The statement makes suffering remotely possible in the future, but blessing is assured regardless.
All this to say... The conditional statement in 4:5 is a First Class Conditional. Most first class conditionals should be translated with the word SINCE instead of IF. The conditions of the statement are such that the two ideas are both assumed to be true. Jesus is the Son of God, and He is able to turn stones into bread.)
Again it is important to stress that conditional statements are asked or stated for the sake of argument (to promote discussion). Satan is looking for Jesus' answers to his statements - he's seeking knowledge of Jesus that he apparently does not know! Like Chess, "If I move here - what will you do?" "What is the extent of your power here?")
Satan is acknowledging that Jesus has the power of God and therefore can turn stones into loaves of Bread. When he says "Tell these stones to become bread," he uses the imperative form of the verb, and literally says to Jesus, "You, speak in order that these stones will become loaves." Many write that Satan thinks Jesus is just God's underling and that Satan wishes to prove that Jesus is not God, but the grammar of the verse does not support that claim. So the issue here is not whether Jesus "can" turn stones into bread, but by whose power will He do that. Satan does not test Jesus as to His power, but the SOURCE of His power. If Jesus chose to demonstrate His power as God then He would have turned away from complete dependence upon His Heavenly Father for all His needs as man a on earth. Philippians 2:7 makes it clear that Jesus would, in becoming a man like other men, he would not use His powers as God to supply His needs, but instead, rely upon His Heavenly Father who would ensure that Jesus lived as a normal man. According to this verse in Philippians Jesus, in some mystical way, has separated Himself from God the Father and the Holy Spirit. He has been appointed The Father's SERVANT for His ministry at the Cross. The temptations of this world, let alone those of the evil one, would have to be met and mastered without the aid of His Deity (i.e., being dependant on Himself and His power rather than total submission and dependency upon His Heavenly Father).
Here's some background scripture on the Plan of God for His Son.
Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.
The Son (in eternity past) was given ALL authority over creation and all that was created.
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The Son, being incarnate, willingly put off "God like" authority and places Himself totally into submission of His Heavenly Father -- becoming His Father's bonded servant. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient (the ruler becomes the ruled) to the point of death, even the humiliating death of the Cross.
The phrase "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped" is one of the most important statements concerning the person and ministry of Jesus from the Incarnation to the End of Time. Since eternity past, it is stated that Jesus as the Son of God would not "grasp," supplant, grab away, etc., the power of God, from His Father and the Holy Spirit, and try to become "The God."
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
After the work of the Cross Jesus is exulted for the work that He has done there - completing the task the Father has asked Him to perform.
1 Corinthians 15:24
"then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power."
When time has finished (after His 1000 year reign over the Kingdom of Israel (The Kingdom of God on Earth) Jesus will take His Church and the believing Nation of Israel and present them as "The Kingdom of God" to His heavenly Father - returning to His fullness with the Tri-unity of God like He enjoyed before the incarnation and His "emptying."
The three tests in this series all point to the same principle. Will Jesus step outside the redemptive plan and not fully fulfill His role as "the man of suffering?" Will Jesus continue through His entire Earthly life being completely dependant upon His Father for everything. He came to be "Servant." He came to be humbled down to humanity, be rejected, beaten, alone, falsely accused of being a demon, ridiculed, in order to die a completely substitutional death, paying the price of sin and sins, in place of every man/woman/and child every born (or will be born) to humanity.
There is one more small matter here to discuss. At the end of verse 3 Lucifer "commands" God the Son to "speak" and make the stones bread. How very presumptuous - commanding God to do your bidding. This statement alone should give us much insight into the person Lucifer - presumptuous, self involved, self centered, and suffering from "Autotheism," (believing yourself to be a god).
Jesus' answer, in each case, will be "Sola Scriptura." It is written... absolute dependence upon the Word of God alone.
Holiness as it pertains to the Scriptures
As we come to consider God's holy city of Jerusalem this is a good place to consider the nature of being "holy." Let us look at three texts that are relevant to the discussion of "holy."
(1) Exodus 3:1-6
3 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God. 2 The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
(Note: the two phrases in bold above should grab your attention. Moses, writing this book, clearly defines "The Angel of the Lord as God in these verses. The Son of God (we know Him as Jesus) is the "God of creation" John 1:1-3, and the God who sustains all of creation, Hebrews 1:3. It is the Son of God who, "in the beginning" created all things. He is the focus of the Scriptures as God.)
Moses encounters Yahweh in the burning bush and is asked to remove his sandals because he is standing on "holy ground." Yahweh gives Moses two distinct instructions: (1) "Don't come near here" and (2) "Remove your sandals because the place where you are standing is holy ground (as well)." God tells Moses not to come near the burning bush but also tells him that he (Moses) is already standing on Holy ground. The holy ground, then, is much larger than the bush where Yahweh speaks. It should follow in our logic that the place from which God speaks is where Moses should not go, not the "holy ground" upon which he is now standing and because of where he is standing he should remove His sandals. There is nothing restricting or inaccessible to God for Moses while he is standing on this "Holy ground," only the place from which God speaks. The fear that Moses feels is not from the place where he is standing but that God is speaking to Him. The place where Moses stands is only "holy" because God is present there, otherwise the ground there, apart from God's presence, is not "holy." Where Moses stands is the only safe place - because it is holy and he is not.
Sinai, the "holy mountain of God" is not sacred or holy on its own but only "holy" while God is present - His presence makes it "holy." We should now see clearly that holy ground is not the place of distance or separation, but that of meeting and the presence of God, the meeting of God and man. In speaking from the middle of the bush, God manifests His desire to be present in the midst of men. God has chosen the place of meeting, it was not Moses who created a place and "made it holy" in order to meet God there.
We should therefore be careful when speaking of "Holy" as separated to, or separated from, God, since the place of meeting Him [where He dwells among us - for meeting with us] is "Holy."
(2) Exodus 19
In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. 3 Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord. 9 The Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.
10 The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; 11 and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. 15 He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
16 So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, or else the Lord will break out against them.” 23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 Then the Lord said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, or He will break forth upon them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
This is quite a long passage but important in our discussion of holy. Israel has come out of Egypt and is now camped before the mountain in the desert of Sinai. The Lord speaks to Moses and commands him to "consecrate" (cause to be holy) the people. The context of Exodus dictates that the actions God commands Moses to take have nothing to do with morality but with relationship to God. What does God desire? He wants Moses to prepare a meeting place for Himself and the people of Israel. The Mountain is not a "taboo" but a place where God can meet with His people. Since God will speak from the Mountain (to Moses) the people are not to go there, but at the foot of the mountain God prepares, through Moses, the ground on which to meet - a place for the coming of God. Consecrating the people then becomes the making of the people to be ready for their meeting with God at the Consecrated place. God requires that they have no contact with blood, of any kind, for the three days before His meeting with them. The blood is the life and to have blood on your hands brings with it the stench of death - clearly inappropriate when meeting the Almighty. It will be the blood and the stench of death that the Lord will have to endure (and seen in all the sacrifices beforehand) at the cross. At their meeting God declares them to be His Priests (solely devoted to the service and worship of the Lord) (The Law has not been revealed and its content concerning blood sacrifice. They will, soon enough, endure the repugnancy of blood sacrifice and all the bloody mess it creates - but not now) and a holy nation. Also, without the Law (at this time) they cannot separate themselves from all that has been declared "un-holy." Again, a place of meeting - not of separation.
In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the house. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled
at the voice of him who called out, while the house was filling with smoke.
5 Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand,
which he had taken from the altar with tongs.
7 He touched my mouth with it and said,
“Behold, this has touched your lips;
and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
Here Isaiah, and others, are in the Temple when Isaiah has a vision of The Lord. Isaiah can only see the edges of The Lord's robe so he is prostrate upon the floor of the Temple. We can tell that Isaiah is inside the Temple and at the doorway - where he can see into the Holy place and the Holy of Holies. The verses do not express separation but the inclusion of Isaiah (and others) in that place where God has come to meet with them. Isaiah's theme for this section of his book is Immanuel, "God with us!"
Isaiah's response, v. 5, confirms the understanding that the basic meaning of holiness is being devoted. Isaiah does not say that he is impure or that the people are impure. He says that his lips and the lips of the people are impure. This refers to all his words and to all the words of the people are impure.
Holiness should not be defined as moral purity, but rather purity is the result of being completely devoted to God as defined by the covenant. Being devoted to the revealed character of God (the Law) and being consecrated to it.
Much misunderstanding of holiness has been taught because of earlier etymologies (where certain words come from, and their meanings based on those histories) combined with ideas concerning moral purity and divine transcendence (being sinful prevents God's closeness). Purity is a result of being holy (devoted and consecrated) in the biblical sense, but is not the meaning of the word, nor is the word connected with divine transcendence (apart or close).
The basic meaning of the word "holy" is "consecrated" or "devoted." In the Scripture it operates within the context of covenant relationships and expresses commitment.
Separateness comes as a result of being holy - being committed. The Pig told the hen, "When the farmer comes for breakfast tomorrow, you're only involved, but I am committed." The Cross is a revelation of the divine holiness.
5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he stood Him on the pinnacle (lit., wing) of the temple, 4:6 and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written: HE WILL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE CONCERNING YOU; AND ON THEIR HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE." 4:7 Jesus said to him, "on the other hand, it is written: YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST (Deuteronomy 6:16)."
The devil quotes Scripture, to be sure, however he did not quote this text accurately (Ps 91:11-12).
He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone."
Apparently that part of the verse did not suit the devil and his purpose.
Satan takes Jesus to God's Holy city (Matthew 5:35; Micah 4:2; 1 Kings 9:3; 2 Chronicles 7:16), and there Jesus does not presume upon His Father - What is not of faith -- is sin! (Romans 14:23).
Again Satan uses the imperative voice of the Verb when He says, "Since you are the Son of God, YOU, CAST YOURSELF DOWN." It would be a "miracle" if Jesus was thrown from the walls of the temple and floated down unharmed to the floor of the Court below. Certainly the devil thought this would appeal to Jesus - the crowd seeing this miracle, and then their desire to proclaim Him Messiah.
Note: The pinnacle (lit., wing) of the temple.
The full space of the temple was divided up into "wings" much like modern office structures are divided up into the "East wing," or the "Education wing." The Dome of the Rock now sits in a "wing" of the demolished Jewish temple. The corners of the "wings," especially in a corner of the temple wall would be the most likely place in reference in the verse. These were very high places. We should not look for a tower or "minarets" but a high dangerous place. Around the outside base of the wall of the temple, again especially at the corners, there would be deep footings for the walls and the resulting stone detritus that would make falling fatal indeed.
Verse :7 is a quote from Deut. 6:16, Ryrie states that "Christ responded that one cannot expect God to protect when out of His will." That's what Jesus would have been doing if He succumbed to this temptation from the evil one and therefore the Angels would not protect Him for His Father commands them and the failure to be "servant" would have broken not only His fellowship with the Son, but would have proved Jesus was not whom He said He was.
Jesus statement, "On the other hand," introduces us to the humor of God the Son. Satan says, "Worship me," and Jesus responds, "on the other hand, "You should worship me, now don't presume that I am not your God."
"Thou shall not put The Lord your God to the test" was Jesus' final words on this matter. The Greek reads, "Not overtempt shall thou The Lord." The verb voice is indicative, no command here - just the facts. This sentence could better be translated: "Satan, you cannot temp me, no matter how much you try." He reminds Satan that The Lord God was also Satan's God whether he believed that or not, and this was a pointed statement concerning all the activities of Satan as they presumed against The Lord God, and third Jesus is Satan's Lord God. Jesus was, after all, Lucifer's (Satan) creator. Lucifer's being cast down to the earth was the work of the pre-incarnate Christ. Jesus could have cast Satan into the pit at this time for his evil attempts to separate Jesus from His Father, but instead willingly chose to follow His Father's plan for the redemption of believing mankind.
It was in the wilderness that the Israelites became thirsty and quarreled with Moses about water. Moses asked them not to put God to the test and went to Him himself and asked for water. It was there that God instructed Moses to strike the rock with the staff that he struck the Nile River. God said "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb (dryness and desert) (Rephidim: also the place whre Aaron and Hur supported Moses' hands in prayer while Joshua secured a great victory over the Bedouin Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16)); and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.: and Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And Moses named that place Massah (trials and temptations) and Meribah (quarreling and strife) because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us, or not? (Exodus 17:1-7)."
4:8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; 4:9 and he said to Him, "All these things will I give You, if falling down, you will worship me."
4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written: YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY (Deuteronomy 6:13)."4:11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
The World, Greek word "Kosmos"
The Greek word cosmos means order, arrangement, or earth (in that sense). When the thought about chaos and unorganized humanity they used the term thalassa, or the sea. Modern scientists desire to confuse us by making the cosmos a place from out of which chaos created order. Clearly for the Greeks, chaos and unorganized humanity did not qualify for the term cosmos (order).
"The Satanic By-Pass"
This is the same flawed plan that caused Satan to be thrown down from Heaven to earth in the first place. He was seeking to put God under his authority (Isaiah 14:12-14). In the third instance, there is offered to Christ the securing, apart from the path of suffering and shame, the possession of the kingdoms of this world. Satan is currently the possessor of all things Earthly (having been thrown down from Heaven), however, the Kingdoms of this world are covenanted to the Son (Psalm 2:8-9) by the Father and the securing of them with respect to title formed a part of His triumph in the cross.
The devil, current "possessor" of the Earth has certain powers and rights to be exercised during his stay here. However, if you remember from the book of Job, the evil one has to go before God Himself - and gain permission - to touch the lives of those who belong to God (Job Chapter 1).
Satan says, "Don't go to the Cross - take your rightful Kingdom now, I'll just give it to you, IF you will worship me."
Satan was the first amillennialist. Thinking Himself god he makes no place for any future besides the one he imagines. According to him there will be no millennial Kingdom of Israel and no end of his reign.
To some degree Satan has personal interest to serve, for there is a wide difference between exchanging the kingdoms of the world for the worship of the Son of God as compared with going on to the doom which deprives him of everything but the lake of fire.
The Earthly kingdom of Satan is for nearly the full extent of linear time. It extends from his fall from heaven to Revelation 20:10, until he is THROWN (like thrown away) into the lake of fire and sulfur - for torture forever. Then end of time and the Eternal New Earth and New Heavens belong to Jesus Christ. Jesus came to rescue a fallen world - not to rule a fallen world.
Satan was offering Jesus his earthly kingdom - and exchange it for ALL OF CREATION. Jesus is, after all, the creator of all that is our universe for all the duration of time. Far beyond that Jesus would have placed all of eternity at risk with the permanent division of the Trinity in giving His place as God to a created being. There would have been so much at stake but Satan did not fully realize with whom he was dealing.
In verse 10 Jesus turns the use of the imperative voiced verb around on Satan - three times. "You, GO Satan," "You, Worship The Lord your God," and "You, Serve Him only."
Jesus' response: "YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY." Then the Devil leaves Him. What clarity. "No, devil, bow down and worship God and Him only." In my mind's eye I see Satan all puffed up making his final assault - ready to "close the deal" in all his arrogance. Then at the last moment, Jesus confronts him and delivers the remarkable truth... All creatures... You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only. As mentioned above, Jesus is the Author of Creation, the Creator Himself, and the Sustainer of all that is created. There Satan stands like a bad little boy - put in his place only to turn and run away from the awesome presence of the Son of God.
Jesus is the author of all creation - the whole of the physical universe and all time - including Satan's kingdom on earth. "Satan, Lucifer, YOU shall bow down and WORSHIP ME and SERVE ME, The Lord your God."
As we contemplate this lesson don't forget that these "temptations" are the very ones that Satan throws upon us when he wants us as his servants. "I'll give you anything you want - if you will serve me," of course what Satan offers is just a lie since he has no kingdom to offer.
With Satan gone the Angels of God come to minister (refresh, care for, etc.) to Jesus. In Matthew 26:53 Jesus says, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (1 legion is somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 foot soldiers, with a smaller compliment of cavalry [perhaps about 100,000 angels all together!]) But how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"
"Father, send them now." A simple call to His Father and 100,000 angels come to His immediate aid. But this would not be the will of God for Jesus and His purpose of the redemption of Man.
In all three tests Christ met Satan's proposals with the Word of God, and demonstrated the fact that the action which Satan suggests is not the will of God. The first Adam was overcome by Satan; the Last Adam (Jesus) drove Satan from the confrontation. As Son of God with His Deity in view, the outcome could not be otherwise; as a man with His humanity filled with the Spirit of God, the victory is measureless and forms a pattern for all the saints of God in all ages. Why not sin? Because you don't have to! Call upon the very Word of God - that the Scriptures may be fulfilled in you as well.
A simple lesson from the temptations of Jesus for our own lives would be to remember that for whatever temptation may cross our paths God will provide the needed grace and victory over that temptation if we would completely place ourselves in His hands and put our full trust in His Son. He was "tempted in all points as we are."
One final note on these verses would be that the Christian life is full of temptations, pain, and suffering as well as the grace, mercy and blessings. When the pain and suffering come into our lives it is good to remember that all these things came into the life of Jesus the Savior - including the pain and the suffering. Having legions of angels, a loving Father, and the full power of the Holy Spirit - did not keep Jesus from the Cross of suffering and shame. We need to ready to do that - as He did.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
As the Royal High Priest of God and having been a man, He knows us and empathizes with us. He is in heaven, having brought His sacrificial blood to His Mercy Seat, in order to REPRESENT US before His heavenly Father - because He, Jesus, was His Father's servant and in that task He did not sin against His Father... "so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
This passage reminds me of how demands can be put upon us from very powerful places - and we do not have to fail. The empathy Jesus feels with our pain and suffering is very real - as He has suffered both temptation, and suffering at the hands of unrighteousness and evil.
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.12 He says,
“I will declare your name
to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again he says,
“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."
(both physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham).
Therefore we should come boldly into His presence and place ourselves at His feet. Isaiah tells us "as long as self and sin come first in any life ... there can be no salvation."
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Author David Augsburger teaches that the only satisfactory method of forgiveness is to take the pain of suffering caused to you by another - is to willfully take that pain and suffering upon yourself - and let the offender go free.
That is precisely what God the Father has done through His Son, Jesus. He has taken upon Himself the pain and suffering that not only I deserve, but all the pain and suffering of all who have, do, will sin against Him.
Pastor Frank V. Ellis lists 6 responsibilities for the believer in response to the written and revealed word of God.
1. Pray for Purity - Psalm 51
2. Seek God's Face - Psalm 105
3. Live by His Spirit - Gal 5:16-25
4. Become a functional member of a local Body of Christ - 1 Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 10:24-25
5. Submit yourself to the discipline and correction of that local Body of Christ - Hebrews 12:5-11
6. Look for Jesus' Return - 1 John 3:2-3; 1 Corinthians 15:15-20.
John identifies himself to the priests and Levites
19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” (Moses) And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
The Wilderness - that's the place of righteousness (where John was), very few out there crying out with the message "repent, and return! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." John cried out for the repentance of the Nation of Israel to turn back to her God; and now, those who stand at the Cross and call out the name of "Jesus" our Lord are few in contrast to the multitude of humanity. Our message now, as it was then, will be to cry out from our wilderness of righteousness, "turn away from your self-will and your idols, come to Christ and be saved from the wrath of God to come."
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. 27 It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
In Short... Not Christ? Not Elijah? Not Moses? Then who are you?
In verse 26 above I have highlighted "among you stand One" to point out that God has always been among His people.
He walked with Adam and Eve. He talked with Seth; Abram (Abraham); Isaac; Jacob (Israel); Joseph; Moses; at the Passover; at the Red Sea; on Mt. Sinai; in the wilderness in the Tabernacle (the Cloud by day - the Pillar of fire by night). He talked with Joshua, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.
Then Came Jesus - Emmanuel, God with us! When Jesus left us He was replaced with the living Holy Spirit of God who takes up residence within us (among the flesh of our very own bodies). He'll come for His nation of Israel and stand among them once again at His second coming, and He'll be among us for all of Eternity.
But back then, God stood with them and they didn't know Him, nor did they chose to know Him.
The religious leaders were concerned that many were following John and his message, "Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand." Could it be that Messiah had come? John's answers must have been somewhat confusing for those asking the questions - like Jesus, John did not answer questions directly but instead with the Truth ... but they would not understand. John's comment about "among you One whom you do not know," foreshadows the problem that they all had - they did not know "the one who was to come" -- who was already among them, God Himself, in the flesh, ready to present His Kingdom.
Note on The Historical Present tense:
Often when the writers of scripture want to involve their listeners (readers) "in the moment" of their narration they use the present tense to describe things that have been completed in the past. Instead of "John saw Jesus coming to him," the writer uses "John sees Jesus coming to him." Our bibles often remind us of the use of the "Historical Present" with the use of an asterisk * alongside the verb in use, and then they translate the verb into the past tense. They seem to think we can't understand the difference without their help.
John Identifies Jesus as the Son of God
29 The next day he (John the Baptist) *saw (sees) Jesus coming to him and *said (says), “Behold, the Lamb of God (the lamb of the atonement sacrifice) who takes away the sin of the world! 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.’ 31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”
The Hebrew people had been washing "for repentance" for centuries. This was also the process for each priest before he could perform any priestly duty. He went to the Brass Laver of the Tabernacle and washed in water (as a ritual cleansing from idolatry, immorality, or general uncleanness).
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 (God the Father) 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.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
Now there is no doubt that John knew who Jesus really was. "The Lamb of God," (the Lamb of the Sacrifice) long foretold throughout the Old Testament by Priests, Leaders, Kings and Prophets - yet, few will receive Him fully, until after His death.
John was a student of the Old Testament, particularly of Isaiah's prophecy (Isa. 40:3-5). It is no surprise, therefore, that he focuses on Messiah's salvation work. John did not completely comprehend how the two ministries (Salvation and The Kingdom) would combine (Mt. 11:2-3; 1 Peter 1:10-11). Even those closest to Christ did not see, until after His resurrection, why He must die. 
John saw the Holy Spirit of God descending upon Jesus. God provided the clearest witness and testimony as to who this Jesus was and what His ministry was to be. He was the man with the full power of the Holy Spirit that would be the administrator of the New Covenant - Our New Royal High Priest.
John's statement "after me comes a man .... who existed before me" was completely lost on them. The man Jesus, who became man, by leaving eternity to do so.
6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
This verse has been recited for centuries at Christmas time and has become so familiar that we no longer stop to listen to what it says.
A CHILD would be born - the Incarnation of the Son of God made possible by Almighty God's gift - His son would be given to us. God's Son given in such a way that He was born to us in the flesh - in a manger, in Bethlehem.
He would be the administrator of the New Covenant - The Government will rest on His shoulders - the Eternal Royal High Priest.
He would be called Wonderful (full of Wonder), Counselor (who better to counsel).
He would be called:
Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Oh my, how have so many churches missed the words of this amazing verse. He and the Eternal Father are one. God with us, God among us, God as one of us - how wonderful. Not only is He Mighty, but He is the Prince of Peace. God comes among men and women to SAVE THEM not to administer His wrath (unless they refuse to be saved). The death of Jesus on the cross brought about absolute peace between God and man. Man must decide to be at peace with God in order to be saved.
Jesus’ Public Ministry, First Followers
"Andrew and another"
35 Again the next day John (the Baptist) was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said (says), “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” (unanswered question!) They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 He *said (says) to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
The first disciples were men of immediacy. Their choice to follow the savior is often at great cost to themselves, however they make their choice and "immediately" follow Him. The New Testament is full of this kind of immediate obedience - where the Old Testament so often tells us of Israel's wayward and obstinate heart.
Simon, Peter (aka Cephas)
41 He *found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
So many in our day and age think that "Christ" is Jesus' last name. Jesus is the Christ - The Hebrew word was "Messiah," the Greek word is "Christ." Christ is His "Office." It is the name of the Job Description assigned to Jesus.
As a side note there is much meaning as to word order when dealing with Jesus the Christ. When a writer refers to "Jesus Christ" he emphasizes the humanity of Jesus by placing His name first. When we see "Christ Jesus," the writer is emphasizing His Godly Office as Messiah.
Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found (finds) Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Philip's statement is profound: "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote." These men were not ignorant of the Scriptures - like we often are! How quickly do you make the connections between the Laws Moses wrote down and Jesus the Christ? How quickly do we place Jesus as the fulfillment of both the blessing and wrath that the Prophets reveal?
Nathanael tells Jesus, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God." We too would say as Jesus does, "Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree?" When Jesus speaks in response to Nathanael He is not reprimanding him for the manner of his faith but commending him and then rewarding him by telling him that he will be allowed to see "The Glory of the Lord" when Jesus is transfigured.
Nathanael's testimony is written down here forever in the Word of God, "You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel."
Jesus' First Miracle (at Cana)
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother *said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. 7 Jesus *said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He *said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. 9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter *called (calls) the bridegroom, 10 and *said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
The miracle of Christ's turning water to wine, recorded in John 2:1-11, tells much about the Lord. It indicates, for instance, that the Lord hallowed marriage and family life. The well-known words of The Book of Common Prayer refer to marriage as a "holy estate" which "Christ adorned and beautified with his presence and first miracle that He wrought in Cana of Galilee. . . ." This miracle also manifests the fact that Christ approved of festivities. More than once this aspect of the Lord's ministry is seen and misunderstood:
14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Our Lord and God spends His time among those who willingly choose to follow Him and those who need Him most. I love the fact that our God comes "eating and drinking." He's a God of relationship, celebration, festivals, and wonders. Eternity with Him is going to be "a blast!" Will there be serious work to be done? Absolutely, but His nature toward His own is one of Love, Kindness, Longsuffering, Grace, Peace, and loving fellowship.
Back to the Wedding at Cana
This miracle is commonly viewed as a sign which reveals the Lord Jesus as the Creator. In this miracle He "created" wine — the whole process of growth, bearing fruit, harvest, and production of wine is compressed into a minuscule fragment of time.
While all of the above are true, do any or all of them reveal the real significance of the miracle?
Of course there are many attendant difficulties and problems that must be answered. Did Jesus make actual wine? Why did Jesus speak to His mother as He did? Why is this the first miracle? Interestingly, all these attendant questions are answered when the basic problem is solved: What is the significance of this first miracle?
The fact that John calls attention to this miracle as being first is enough to indicate its primacy among the wonders Christ performed. That he should describe it as "a sign" also indicates its importance and consequence. The word signs looks at a miracle as proof of a point or as a means of teaching something critical. The crucial thing is not the miracle, as genuine and important as it is, but the lesson to be learned from the miracle.
A wedding and its attendant wedding feast provided the occasion for the miracle. Evidently the marriage had already been contracted; the groom had gone to the bride's home to acquire his wife; the wedding procession to the groom's house had taken place; and now the wedding festivities had begun. This celebration could last for days, possibly even a week.
The presence of the Lord's mother, the Lord Jesus (a Rabbi Himself), and His disciples is described in verses 1 and 2. John assumes the reader knows the basic Gospel narrative; this is attested by his referring to Mary simply as "the mother of Jesus." It is of interest to observe the absence of any reference to Joseph. It may be assumed he had died before Christ began His public ministry.
The Lord Jesus must have been an intimate friend of the family. He was personally invited and so were His disciples; He was told of the embarrassing lapse in the supply of wine; the servants were put into submission to Him. Obviously Jesus was no stranger! It is interesting to observe in this connection the contrast in the verb tenses between verses 1 and 2. The verb in verse 1 is imperfect, implying Mary had been there for some time. The aorist in verse 2 may imply Christ had been invited later, on His return to Nazareth from the Jordan. At any rate the presence of the disciples was certainly something of a surprise. They were perhaps "invited" as an afterthought only because they were with Jesus. (The verb "invited" εκλήθη is singular, i.e., Jesus was invited, and He came with His disciples.) After all, the five disciples who were with Jesus had only been called during the preceding two days! Could it be that their presence contributed to the shortage of the wine?
In connection with John 2:3-5 the question is often raised, Was the wine Jesus made actual wine? It is very difficult to answer this in the negative; the text refers to actual wine for several reasons. First, the word used here is oinoc which simply means "wine." That this is its meaning is difficult to dispute. Second, the word mbathow used in verse 10 means "to be drunk" (cf. Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:15; 1 Cor. 11:21; 1 Thess. 5:7; Rev. 17:2, 6).
While it is difficult to dispute the fact that the Lord made wine, two mitigating factors must be brought into the discussion. First, drunkenness was a despised sin and was severely reprobated. No passage of Scripture teaches total abstinence, but drunkenness is clearly classified as sin (Hab. 2:15; Luke 21:34; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; etc.). To say the Lord made wine by no means indicates He condoned drunkenness. Second, wine was normally diluted. The ratio could be as high as twenty parts of water to one of wine or as low as one to one. Even the apocryphal 2 Maccabees refers to this custom of diluting wine with water (2 Maccabees 15:38-39). But even this is a straw-man to the issue. It is obvious from the Greek words listed above that the wine was real - regardless of what form it may have been in. The whole point of the wine being in the miracle in the first place would be lost if this were not so.
When the supply of wine lapsed, the Lord's mother informed Christ of this most embarrassing situation. This was a social faux pas of the first order. It could even result in a lawsuit by the bride's parents against the family of the groom!
What is the significance of Mary informing the Lord that the supply of wine had been depleted? Certainly she was not doing this to ask the Lord and His disciples to leave. Perhaps their presence contributed to this disconcerting plight; but this explanation of her words, "They have no wine," does not fit the remainder of the narrative. In verse 5 Mary tells the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."
It is quite clear Mary was expecting a miracle. It is true the Lord had not as yet performed any miracles, but she certainly had many evidences of His supernatural character — His conception, the events surrounding His birth and presentation in the Temple (cf. Luke 2:8-38), and the incident in the Temple area when He was only twelve years old. Now His appearance with the disciples whom He had called would point to the beginning of His public ministry. Mary informed the Lord of the problem so He could super-naturally solve it.
He responds with respect, even though many English translations miss that, with the question, "What has the lack of wine to do with the reason I'm here?" (the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven).
Jesus changes the water into wine and the headwaiter - astonished at the quality of the wine - reports his findings to the bridegroom. The text is only recording the words of an astonished professional. The point of the remark is the high quality of the wine; the best available had been served earlier, but the miraculous wine far surpassed it.
There is significance in the miracle; first for Israel, especially the Israel of Christ's day. The wedding feast with its new wine portrays the coming of the kingdom. By this sign the Lord declares He is the Messiah of Israel who is capable of bringing the predicted kingdom into its glorious existence. There are a number of factors that show this is the point of the miracle: (1) The kingdom is often portrayed in terms of a banquet, especially a wedding feast (Matt. 8:11; 22:1-14; Luke 13:29; 14:15-24; Rev. 19:7-9). The presence of the Lord at these marriage festivities at Cana graphically pictures the coming of the kingdom. (2) A number of references in the Old Testament picture the kingdom age in terms of wine. For instance, Isaiah 25:6 joins the figures of a banquet and wine together to illustrate the joys of the future kingdom age. In Isaiah 27:2-6 the prophet describes Israel as God's vineyard in the millennium. An abundance of wine was a description often used in the Old Testament of the time when Abraham's promises would be fulfilled (Gen. 49:11-12; Jer. 31:12; Hos. 2:22; 14:7; Joel 2:19, 24; 3:18; Amos 9:13-14; Zech. 9:15-17; 10:7).
This gives significance to the lapse of wine. Not only was this a gross social error; it was also a picture of the obsolescence of Judaism. The old wine had run out and Christ the Messiah was here to bring the new. As Paul put it, "the fullness of time" had come (Gal. 4:4). The Lord used the same kind of a figure in the parable of the wineskins (Matt. 9:17; Luke 5:37-38). The Apostle John beautifully prepared for this miracle in John 1:17: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ" (NASB). The miracle shows the old order had run its course; now was the time for a new one (also recall the Old and New wineskins - you don't put NEW wine into OLD wineskins, for they will burst (not about "new wine" - unfermented wine - or how would the Old skins burst?).
The significance of this miracle is not for Jews only; it is obviously for the church as well. The basic truth for Christians is found in the joy of salvation. Wine and joy are also associated together. The psalmist praises God for His generous providence in giving man "wine which makes man's heart glad" (Ps. 104:15). In a classic case of personification the vine of Judges 9:13 objects, "Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?" Although Westcott fails to see this miracle as an illustration of God's provision of joy for the Christian he does remark, "There is a Jewish saying, 'Without wine there is no joy' "
This miracle portrays not only the joy Christ brings into a person's life but also the abundance of joy. The Lord made between 120 and 150 gallons of wine! Not only do believers have access to a peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7) and grace unbounding (Rom. 5:20), but also joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet. 1:8). Surely the vast supply of wine portrays both the abundance of the kingdom age and the fullness of joy in the individual Christian's experience. Hymn writers have caught this aspect of the spiritual life in various phrases and clauses — "Come we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known . . ."; "He brings a poor lost sinner into His house of wine . . ."; "Rejoice, give thanks, and sing . . ."; and a myriad more.
Finally, for the Christian there is a new life in Christ. The old is passed away and there is a whole new life and perspective in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
This miracle, then, was a sign, a sign to prompt faith in Jesus as the Messiah and to provide new life through Him, just as John states in the declaration of the purpose of his Gospel (John 20:31).
This verse is one of the first mentions of the then Mystery of the Church age. Jesus was telling them that something NEW is about to happen - and it will "come along-side" the OLD. While there will be a brand new wine in the brand new wineskin, there will still be rich old wine in the old wineskin.
Today's "replacement theology" movement tries to say that the Church, the Body of Christ, completely replaces the Nation of Israel, including all prophecy. What a tragedy that so many do not see the everlasting blessing that God has provided for ALL through His people the physical seed of Abraham. The day is rapidly coming when all people will know the truth of God's place for Israel.
Visit at Capernaum with His disciples
12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.
First Passover — The First Cleansing of the Temple
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and (then) they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Jesus now visits Capernaum (His future "hometown"). He's there with His family and His disciples. While there the time for the Passover arrives, and they (probably He and His disciples, leaving the family in Capernaum) head for Jerusalem. They have arrived there in time to celebrate The Passover (now called the Festival of Freedom, or the Festival of Liberation). This event is one of the most important in the Hebrew calendar. This was the commemoration of that night when the Angel of God took the lives of all the first-born (animal and people) who were not protected by "the blood of the Lamb." This feast is still in the Jewish calendar - even though they have always refused to see the truth as to "the blood of the Lamb" being the sacrificial blood of Jesus The Christ. In fact every element of the "Seder" meal. Jews today place their emphasis on the liberation of God's people from the Egyptians. They have come to believe the issue of the Passover was their freedom from their oppressor. They have forgotten even the meaning of the name of their ritual - The Passover - that night when God preserved those who would believe in Him.
When the disciples saw Jesus clearing the Temple they remembered the words of the Scriptures concerning Messiah and His love of His "Father's House", "Zeal for Your house will consume me." All of us have special memories of favorite places. I have been often touched by the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. It's there that hundreds of thousands come to place flowers, Teddy-bears, and other significant things once belonging to their deceased loved ones. Now suppose you, as a Vietnam vet, who has lost many friends in combat, came to pay respect to them, and found the memorial desecrated with billboards, posters, and hundreds of vendors pedaling junk for dollars. Worst of all, the vendors were military officers. This is what Jesus found when He visited the Temple in Jerusalem. It had been changed into a secular money-laundering operation - run by the "Parish Priests," the Rabbis and elders. This was no small offense by the Jewish leadership. This was The Temple of Jerusalem - how far down they had fallen.
When Jesus was through cleaning out the place - He was asked by the Temple authorities, "Who's authority do you do such a thing?"
He replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” We know from a later verse that He was speaking about His physical body, His death, burial, and resurrection, but even His disciples did not understand what He meant. It would only be after His death and resurrection that they would "remember" what He said here this day. It is, in fact, this very statement will send Him to the Cross labeled as a blasphemer (Matthew 26:61).
An Early Response to Jesus' Miracles
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
A very interesting verse. After the cleansing of the Temple, and during the feast, Jesus was doing signs and miracles among the people at the festival. Their "belief" was the result of watching Jesus perform the prophesized "signs" and "miracles" of the Old Testament Prophetic books. The words say, that "many believed in His name," and this is the same phrase that we use for coming to salvation. Jesus knew of their shallow and unbelieving faith ("chrome plated - shiny and new" - I want it!). There is a lesson here that we need to see clearly - not everyone who "believes" in His name... is saved. We should remember the parable that Jesus teaches concerning the SOILS. There are some who will call out His name, even believe in His name - that He is the Christ, only to remember that even Satan did that. Satan believed in the Name of Jesus the Christ but it takes more than "believing in a name." Salvation is a matter of the changing of the heart. A matter of changing from loving self, and "anything but God," to loving God - and loving Him only. This is BELIEF - the kind that brings forth the eternal relationship - only then is one Born of God.
Jesus, being omniscient, was well aware of man's spiritual condition. Jesus is also well aware that the type of "believing" that these were doing was not of the kind that either would lead them to the Kingdom of God or to personal salvation. Their "belief" was founded upon His miraculous actions and not upon their desire to love God.
It is good then to remember that the salvation that is offered by God is exclusively offered on His terms. Those who believe on any other terms than His are not believing in what He offers, but are believing in what they desire for the terms of salvation.
Verse 24 goes on to explain further that Jesus knew the hearts of those who "believed in His name" and found them false believers. As a result He was "not entrusting Himself to them," not trusting them in the matter of salvation by faith. He knew their hearts - and they were not good.
Nicodemus' interview with Jesus - The New Birth
(John 3:3; 5-8; 10b-21 are all spoken by Jesus)
3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born FROM ABOVE (Gk: anothen, anothen, from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born FROM ABOVE.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, BUT you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
This is another very interesting set of verses. We have a Pharisee, who believed in resurrection, named Nicodemus who was a member of the Sanhedrin. This is one of the primary groups of leadership that would spearhead the attempted murder of, and then the crucifixion of Jesus.
He came to Jesus "at night." While some don't put much emphasis on this phrase, I believe that it is a very telling statement. I believe it shows the early signs of the division between Israel's leadership and the person of Jesus. Jesus has just purged the temple of their businesses and their income from these businesses. When they asked Him by what authority He entered the Temple and did this He responded, "Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days." While the disciples didn't comprehend His statement (concerning His physical body and the resurrection) the Pharisees perceived it fully well. It meant one of two things to them. (1) If the Temple was destroyed, He could rebuild it Himself in three days - Thus He was telling them He was God. (2) If they killed Him, He would be resurrected in three days - Thus He was telling them He was God.
Many issues that Jesus' actions raise create the situation whereby Jesus has to be one of three things. (1) Insane, (2) a liar, or (3) God. The leadership sees this clearly and they proclaim Him to be a liar. A liar of the worst magnitude - a blasphemer. They could have labeled Him as a lunatic, however they never do that. If indeed they perceived His statement concerning the Temple as having to do with resurrection - then they were clearly convinced that He was representing God and that they wanted no part of a god who would not rescue them from Roman rule. Besides, they had all the political power and who would want to give that up by welcoming this "self-styled" new King?
Nicodemus was completely different from the rest of the Pharisees. "For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him." The other Pharisees will eventually tell Jesus that His works are "of Satan."
Jesus continues His dialog with Nicodemus by telling him "unless one is born from above - he cannot see the kingdom of God." We need to be careful not to get caught up in the "born again" terminology at this time. Certainly we understand that term however Jesus does not use it here. He tells Nicodemus that he must be "born from above" (Gk ano, from above). Unless your birth is down from heaven you will never enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus allusion is to the "womb of heaven" that you must be birthed from in order to be eligible to enter the Kingdom of God. His emphasis is upon the Source of this new birth, not the timing of it.
(Note: If born from Heaven then return to Heaven - A born citizen of Heaven, being born there guarantees citizenship)
It is Nicodemus who becomes confused and relates what Jesus has said to the timing of human birth (i.e., how can a man enter the womb a second time and be "birthed"). Jesus corrects him with "what is born of flesh is flesh," meaning, "Nicodemus, stop thinking in human terms. This is a Spirit "birth," and is brought about solely by the Spirit of God." This is a reference to the process of Spiritual birth. The Spirit of God does as He wishes. Spiritual birth has nothing to do with the receiver of the New Birth except that God has chosen them for it. You can't "guess" what the Spirit wants and do that for Salvation - It is God who saves, In Christ, through His Holy Spirit.
Nicodemus asks "how can these thing be?" Jesus, in his disappointment with the condition of the spiritual leadership of Israel, says to him, "You are a teacher of Israel - and you do not know these things." "We speak and testify of the things we know" Jesus says concerning Himself and His believing disciples, "and you (Nicodemus and your Pharisees) reject our testimony."
(A final note on verse 13: It is only "in-Christ" that anyone has access to The Kingdom of Heaven. Being born in and of the Spirit is necessary as there is no access to Heaven by flesh and blood. It is a spiritual realm, not a physical one.)
The Clear Example of the Gospel
Still in John 3 (Jesus continues to speak)
14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
The example John chooses is one of the most symbolic of Jesus found in the Old Testament. As part of the background on the "serpent" we need to know the meaning of the word "Seraphim." (Numbers 21:6 refers to "serpents; the burning ones" (Heb enchshim seraphim). Early translators wanted to avoid connecting Lucifer, the snake of Eden, with the Seraphim. However, apparently, that is exactly how all Seraphim are represented in the Bible. Just because they have feet, hands, and faces, however, does not mean that they cannot be snakes..." The word "Seraphim" is not a translation of the Hebrew word (the plural of Seraph) but a transliteration - the sound of the word in Hebrew rather than its meaning. The images of the Seraph in the Old Testament are of "a burning presence." They are beings of fire. They are represented as having 3 pairs of wings, one to cover their faces, one to hide their lower bodies, and one with which they fly. They stand in the very presence of God crying "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory."
In the Numbers 21 passage the Lord sent fiery serpents (Seraphim) to punish the Israelites for their discontent with the provisions of God. By complaining the people were saying that God was not completely devoted to THEM, and so they impugned His holiness (His dedication to them). God instructed Moses to put a bronze "fiery serpent" symbol atop a pole and the afflicted, if they looked to the symbol, were "saved" from the bite or sting. There seems to be a connection between this "serpent" event and the Passover, and thus the Cross - which saves from the penalty of sin.
There also is a connection between the Seraphim in total as opposed to the Seraphim who had fallen with Lucifer as a second meaning for the symbol. Both He (The Garden of Eden serpent) and his evil minions. In the Numbers 10 illustration we should also see the dead bronze (always a symbol of judgment) serpent as being held up for all to see the Provision of God (Victory over the dead serpent on the pole).
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
For God the Father loved the WORLD in the following manner.
He gave His only begotten Son that EVERYONE BELIEVING IN HIM (The Son), may not PERISH, but have LIFE EVERLASTING.
Don't forget that this verse follows :14 and 15 concerning the brass serpent on the pole. The message here is "Look to Him (on the pole) for salvation will be found there." We've used and studied this verse many time in our series. The manner in which the Father loved the World - not just those who would believe, not just the select Nation of Israel, but the World - by making full forgiveness for all of the sin, sins, offences, etc., of that World - reconciling Himself to that World. In the matter of salvation SIN is "off the table." That is a negotiation phrase. Items - insurance, hours, pay, etc., that are hoped for in a negotiation are "placed on the table" one at a time as a matter to be negotiated. As each item is considered, some are taken "off the table" and no longer acceptable as negotiable. After the Cross, Sin is no longer the issue for salvation - it is "off the table." The sole issue that stands between the unsaved and salvation is the ultimate question asked by The Father, "What have you done concerning My Son?" "Have you believed, received, Him as The Christ. Have you a heart that Loves Me by Loving Him?"
17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Jesus continues to teach and is speaking of Himself in these verses.
Over the years I've found a great number of people who see God as having a "big stick," hiding behind a corner ready to catch them in sin and place judgment upon them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus states that He came into the world to bring salvation - not judgment.
Judgment falls upon those who continually refuse to give God His rightful place in their lives. He is God and worthy of worship and adoration. When a person chooses to disregard Him and place themselves as the center of their lives He is left with no other alternative but to bring judgment upon them after their lives have run their full course. He is longsuffering and gracious. He waits until all opportunity to change their minds has passed before finally condemning them for their sin and sins. The "already judged" concept places all who have not yet believed on notice - "You must believe or be found judged."
19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
John then defines the results of the two different hearts. The heart of the unbeliever, never submitting to the Lord Jesus: loves darkness and will stay in the darkness. The heart of the believer, completely submitting to the Lord Jesus: loves the Light and will always, eternally, be in His Light. The choice belongs to the individual as each is not only responsible, but accountable, for their choice.
John Superseded by Jesus - John's Last Testimony
(Jesus and John baptizing in the same area)
22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized— 24 for John had not yet been thrown into prison.
Matthew tells us that Jesus spends time with His disciples. We who know Him know that He loves to spend time with His disciples. We learn from other parts of the scriptures that Jesus never actually baptized anyone Himself. His disciples did that work. The phrase here merely indicates that while Jesus spent time with His disciples ... they spent time leading others to Jesus and were also baptizing them for repentance - as John and his disciples were also baptizing. We should see the image here of many coming to the disciples for the washing of water to testify of the "turning around" of their attitude towards God and His Kingdom.
A final note in verse :24 foreshadows the rough treatment and imprisonment of John the Baptist that was to come.
25 Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purification.
This verse is key to understanding the baptism of John and Jesus' disciples at this time. Their purpose was the testimony of Purification under the Mosaic Law, not testimony of salvation. The baptism of John and Jesus concerned making a people ready should the Kingdom of Heaven be established in their time - not a demonstration of faith placed in their acceptance of the Savior.
26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” 27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.
John's disciples are concerned that there is another Rabbi in the same area who is preaching repentance and baptism - in fact, at this time, many more are going to this other Rabbi than are going to John the Baptist and John's disciples are anxious about it.
28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’
John does not want his disciples to miss the fact that he is not the Christ - but "That's Him over there." John tells them through a simple metaphor that the groom is the one with the bride, i.e., the groom is the important one in this story. It is the friend (Best Man) of the groom who stands near him (at the wedding).
29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
Both John and the disciples of Jesus (not Jesus Himself) were baptizing - the baptism of repentance, not Christian baptism. The issue at hand for most of the remainder of the public ministry of Jesus concerns a nation that must repent (turn around and back to their God). Those who publicly repented sought public baptism. This is a continuation of the Jewish ritual. As the ministry of Jesus comes to the forefront - the ministry of John the Baptist will come to a close. He must soon face imprisonment and then death.
It is the Best Man who rejoices to hear his friends voice. The use of metaphor is not limited to Jesus. Here John uses it to cloud his direct meaning so that only those with "Spiritual" understanding will perceive his message. "Jesus is the Groom, I am his friend. I rejoice that He is now here." John also testifies to his disciples that now that the "Groom" is hear, John can turn his attentions elsewhere. His job is finishing. The way has been "made straight." It is time for Jesus to move into His full and rightful place. John sees Jesus, and "his joy is made full,"
Consider what John knew about his cousin Jesus. Born of a virgin, introduced and prophesized by an angel, raised locally with him and John had every opportunity to study his cousin for 30 years. John knew it was his responsibility to "make strait the path of Messiah." Now He knows that Jesus is that one who has come to save his people from their sins. Put yourself in his place - There he is, your cousin, The Messiah - He has come! Wouldn't your joy be now complete?
We'll break up the following verses for clarity
31 “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies;
John testifies that this Jesus:
Comes from Heaven
Is above all
John who comes from the earth speaks of earthly things
Jesus who comes form
Heaven speaks of Heavenly things
He is above all
The things He has seen in Heaven - He testifies of here on earth.
and no one receives His testimony.
How utterly sad that so early in Jesus' ministry - no one receives His testimony concerning what He has to say about Heavenly and eternal truth.
33 He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.
Those who do recognize who He is and set their hearts upon that, all proclaim that God is true - Holy - His dedication to the salvation of Man is extraordinary and continuing. Jesus speaks the very words of God - bringing salvation to those who would believe, and He gives His Holy Spirit to them without measure (no constraints, no giving Him back).
35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.
Many verses point to these words but even these would be enough. It is the Son (Jesus, now in human form) who has been given ALL things into His hand (given all power and authority). He was given the responsibility of the creation of all things, and sustaining all things - including the coming to earth to become the sacrifice for the sin and sins of man.
Eternal life becomes a present possession as soon as one believes. Also, we must not confuse the two prominent issues in these verses.
1 - repentance for entrance into the Kingdom of Israel, and
2 - belief in the Son of God that leads to personal salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of God.
36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John's straight forward and concise words:
"He who believes
in the Son
has eternal life
he who does not obey the Son
will not see life
but the wrath of God
abides on him."
Many in the world want to reject the notion that each individual must come to God the Father through Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ alone. They view Jesus as just one of many "good paths" to get to God.
They have rejected the revealed knowledge of the Scriptures that Jesus is THE GOD OF THE BIBLE. Isaiah 9:6 and following:
"6 For a child (baby Jesus) will be born to us, a son (The Son of God) will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore."
Wonderful Counselor, MIGHTY GOD, ETERNAL FATHER, Prince of Peace.
That is whom Jesus the Christ is! Rejecting Jesus - is rejecting Almighty God the Eternal Father.
Jesus' Departure from Judea to Galilee
4:1 Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), 3 He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. 4 And He had to pass through Samaria. 5 So He *came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; 6 and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
Because Jesus was the "leader" of this new repentance movement the work of His disciples is attributed to Him. Jesus' ultimate ministry concerns the salvation of individual believing men, women and children. His "temporary" ministry of seeking the repentance of the Hebrew people would make many ready for salvation - but largely these repenting Jews would turn against Him and ask for His crucifixion.
Verse 2. There is also the interaction between things physical and things spiritual; faith we call it. God has hidden many things from our eyes that we could, and would, idolatrize and worship. Any "thing" of His (His robe, His sandals, pieces of the cross, etc.) is in jeopardy of becoming an item of idolatry. Verse 2 can be categorized in this way also. How self-oriented it would be for a mere man, or woman, to have been baptized by The Lord. There is no place in heaven for "I was baptized by Jesus." Those who were healed by Him stand in a completely different category - they display His mercy and grace.
Verse 3. Jesus is well aware that the leadership of the "Jewish nation" will eventually call for His rejection and death. He has a timetable that His Father has given Him to complete "the fullness of time" at the Cross. Inciting the leadership early in His ministry would have consequences affecting His timing. Verse 3 demonstrates this point. Rather than continue to antagonize the Pharisees (in this case His disciples baptizing "more" into repentance) Jesus moves from Judea back into Galilee. This kind of personal involvement with the leadership would have to wait until later in Jesus' public ministry.
Verse 4. The Samaritans were descendants of gentile colonists whom the Assyrian kings planted in Palestine (to intermarry with the Jews who were not carried away as captives) after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722 bc. They were despised by the Jews because of their mixed Gentile blood and their different worship, which centered at Mount Gerizim where they build a rival temple (John 4:20-22) chose their own priesthood, and followed their own version of The Law of Moses. It seems apparent, if we follow the rest of the story (the Woman at the Well) that the Samaritan Jews were largely Idolaters for Jesus says to her, "You worship what you do not know." Their form of worship was a collection of their Jewish past and their secular present. She had knowledge that a Messiah was coming (more on this later).
Verse 5. Sychar is better known as Shechem, the place where Abraham stayed when he first came to Palestine (Genesis 12:6) and where Jacob bought land from Hamor, the father of the original man named Shechem, and built an altar (Genesis 33:18-20). Before he died, Jacob gave the hillside near Shechem to his son Joseph (Genesis 48:22) where Joseph was finally buried. This became the inheritance of Joseph's descendants. It's interesting that with the death of Aaron's son Eleazar the era of the faithfulness of the tribe of Joseph came to an end (Joshua 24:28-33).
Verse 6. Jacob's well is still visible today near the ancient ruins of Shechem. It stands as a testimony to the mercy and grace of Jesus. The people of Samaria were mixed -- Jew and Gentile -- and yet Jesus sought them out with His answer to the woman of Samaria's inquiry concerning the Messiah, "I who speak to you am He."
Mariamne and Herodias
19 But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the wicked things which Herod had done, 20 Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison.
Herodias, the former wife of Herod's half brother Philip, her uncle. She had been persuaded to leave her husband and marry Herod Antipas, thus committing incest which was against Mosaic Law (Leviticus 18:16). John condemned him for this, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife," and Antipas knew that John spoke the truth.
I also find it significant that Aristobulus 1 (Mariamne, Herod the Great's wife's grandfather) had two children - a girl and a boy - who each had a child (one female Alexandra, and one male Alexander) who wed and had one child Mariamne. So, Mariamne was the product of 2 cousins intermarrying and it was she that was offended with John The Baptist's remarks to her husband.
The full text for this event is at Matthew 14:1-11
5 Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, 7 so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Having been prompted by her mother, she *said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.
Shortly after John the Baptist's public ministry was brought violently to a close. Herod Antipas had divorced his wife Phasaelis and then had taken Herodias, his brother Philip's wife illegally, and when John reproved him for this and other sins (Luke 3:19), Herod cast him in prison, the castle of Machaerus, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. While confined there he sent two of his disciples to Jesus with the inquiry, "Art thou He that should come?" This was doubtless done in order to assist his disciples in transferring their allegiance to Jesus, as Jesus himself bore testimony to the steadfastness of John (7:19-28).
Herodias (Herod's wife), embittered against John, was determined upon his death, but was prevented by Herod's conviction that John was a just man (Mark 6:20) and his fear of the people (Matt. 14:5). But at last her opportunity arrived, and taking advantage of a promise given by Herod to her daughter (Salome), Herodias bade Salome to order the decapitation of John the Baptist. The king reluctantly complied, and sent an executioner, who beheaded him in the prison. His disciples, when they heard of his death, buried his body and went and told the Lord (Matt. 14:3-12; Mark 6:17-29) just before Matthew's account of the feeding of the 5,000 -- 10 chapters from now at Mt. 14.
Introductory and Overview Questions:
Q. What are the names of the two Covenants God makes with the descendants of Abraham?
A. The Old and the New
Q. How are the "descendants" of Abraham determined?
A. Physical and Spiritual
Q. What is a Biblical covenant?
A. A Will - with an inheritance
Q. Who was the administrator of the Old Covenant?
A. Moses/Aaron - High Priest
Q. Who is the administrator of the New Covenant?
A. High Priest and King, Jesus, the Christ
Q. Why did there need to be a New Covenant to replace the Old Covenant?
A. Old Covenant could not guarantee Salvation
Q. What is the difference in the way each of the two covenants were signed (or written in)?
A. Old Covenant in the blood of animals
A. New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus, the Christ
Q. Do you belong to (participate in) the New Covenant?
A. Yes, grafted/adopted into the Family as Adult Sons
Questions Concerning Prophecy
Q. What is the point of Jesus' fulfillment of O.T. Prophecies?
A. The demonstration of Who He was through signs &
Q. What Gospel will Jesus be preaching for most of His earthly ministry?
A. The Gospel of the Promised Kingdom (to Abraham, I., J.)
Q. What is the Gospel of the Kingdom?
A. Repent, for the Promised Kingdom of Heaven is at hand
Q. Is salvation the message of this Gospel?
A. No, only citizenship in the Promised Kingdom
Q. What people is this Gospel directed at?
A. The Hebrew descendants (the Nation) of Abraham
Q. Was this promised Kingdom be established during the earthly life and ministry of Jesus?
A. No, Jesus reveals that the promised Kingdom will be postponed
Q. Why not?
A. The Hebrew leadership and people will reject Jesus as "their" messiah.
Q. When will this promised Kingdom be established?
A. At the 2nd coming of Jesus - at the end of this age
Questions related to the question, "Could Jesus Sin?"
Q. When Jesus was tempted could He have sinned by doing to?
Q. What is the major argument as to why He could not?
A. As God He is unable to deny His own character
Q. What would it mean to believers if He could have sinned?
A. The promise of salvation would always be insecure
Q. If at any time Jesus could sin ... could He be God?
A. No, the sinful action would prove that He was not God
Questions related to Lucifer.
Q. List some of the names for Lucifer.
A. Satan, the evil one, the tempter, the serpent
Q. Does Lucifer have the attributes of a god?
A. Certainly not - he is a created being
Q. From your knowledge of the Scriptures what is Lucifer trying to accomplish - here, and overall?
A. Demonstrate that He can be a god and "throw down" Jesus, the Son of God.
Questions related to Matthew 4:1-2.
4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. :2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
Q. Who led Jesus into the wilderness?
A. The Holy Spirit of God
Q. Why was Jesus led into the wilderness?
A. According to the verse "to be tempted by the devil."
Q. What did Jesus do while in the wilderness?
A. He fasted
Q. How long was Jesus in the wilderness?
A. 40 days
Q. What does fasting accomplish?
A. Provides 100% of you time available for communion with God (His case .. the Father and the HS; in our case all three persons)
Q. At the end of the 40 days how did Jesus feel?
Q. Why bring up the fact that Jesus was hungry?
A. The subject of the next verse is Bread.
The First Temptation
Questions related to Matthew 4:2-4.
Q. What did Satan ask Jesus to do?
A. Command that stones become bread
B. Feed yourself
Q. What was the issue involved?
A. Do what I say, don't rely upon your heavenly Father
Q. How did Jesus answer him?
A. "You don't know scripture do you?
B. "What God provides is essential, not just bread"
Q. Why do you think Matthew used the phrase "through the mouth of God"?
A. Jesus replies to His created being, the devil, and Jesus is the creator of all things, they came into existence as He spoke His words of creation.
Q. What word can you more accurately use in stead of "if," in an "if - then" statement, when both sides of that argument are true?
Questions related to Philippians 2:6-7.
Q. What does it mean that Jesus did not "regard equality with God a thing to be grasped."
A. Lucifer had made an attempt at "grasping" the power of God and became evil and fell because of it. When Jesus became God/Human He did not do this, but instead chose allegiance with His Father and the Holy Spirit.
Q. Since becoming a "bond servant" of His Father is the method Jesus used to "empty Himself" then what does this mean to you?
A. Jesus chose to lower/humble himself and not raise Himself up for His own aggrandizement.
Questions related to Philippians 2:9-11.
Q. Describe in your own terms how God exalted Jesus for willing obedience to His Father.
A. God the Father placed Him above ALL in Power and position.
Q. What shall be the results of The Father's proclamation concerning His Son?
A. In Heaven and on earth, every knee shall bow to Him as King.
Questions related to 1 Corinthians 15:24.
Q. At the end of time, what does Jesus do with the Promised Kingdom?
A. He will hand it over to God and Father.
Q. What will Jesus have done by that time?
A. He will have abolished ALL OTHER rule(rs), power(s), and authority(ies).
Questions related to "Holiness."
Q. What is the basic meaning underlying the Biblical term "holiness"?
A. Consecrated / Devoted
Q. When on earth, where does God prefer to live?
A. Emanuel - God dwells with us (among men)
Q. Who is the revelation of God that "dwells among men"?
A. Jesus, the Christ (Messiah), the Second Person of the Trinity, The Son of God.
The Second Temptation
Questions related to Matthew 4:5-7.
Q. Did the devil think that Jesus would throw Himself down from the temple?
Q. How do you know that from the text?
A. The devil told Him to.
Q. What was the devil trying to do?
A. "Tempt the Lord, the devil's God"
Q. How do you know that from the text?
A. Quote, "You shall not put the Lord Your God to the test."
The Third Temptation
Q. What does Matthew mean by starting the sentence with "Again"?
A. Again, another temptation and/or
B. Again, another high place
Q. What did the devil offer Jesus?
A. All the kingdoms of the world and their glory
Q. How did Jesus answer him?
A. "get out of town, devil"
Q. What does the scripture Jesus used mean?
A. Jesus is the creator and sustainer of all things - the acquisition of the devils earthly kingdom(s) belong to Jesus anyway. "Don't continue to trying to tempt the Lord your God - instead, Serve Him. Jesus, the preincarnate Son of God is the Devil's Lord, even when in human form - "Stop tempting me, SERVE ME."
Questions related to:
Hebrews 4:14-16; Psalm 103:14; Hebrews 2:19-16; Isaiah 53:6.
Q. Why are we able to approach God's throne for mercy and grace with confidence?
A. Because we have an empathetic Great High Priest in Jesus
Q. Given the fact that we are chosen and called by Him what do think Psalm 103 means, "He remembers that we are dust"?
A. "Even though" we are dust - He made us High and Mighty in His image.
Q. How important is suffering (for righteousness sake) in the matter of salvation? - explain.
A. He made our Salvation Perfect.
Q. Hebrews 2:16 - Who does God help and free from the slavery of the fear of death?
A. Abraham's descendants - (physical (righteous ones) and spiritual ones.
Q. What is the final destination of all our iniquity?
A. It is placed upon Jesus, the Christ
Q. In the matter of sin - how do we go free?
A. Jesus has taken upon Himself the pain and suffering that not only I deserve, but all the pain and suffering of all who have sinned, do sin, and will sin against Him.
 Jesus Christ. The name Jesus is from the Greek (and Latin) for Hebrew "Jeshua" (Joshua), which means "The Lord is salvation." "Christ" is from the Greek for the Hebrew Messiah (Messiah), meaning "Anointed one." Jesus is His given name and Christ is the office He holds (Messiah), He is Jesus, The Christ.
 Jesus Christ. The name Jesus is from the Greek (and Latin) for Hebrew "Jeshua" (Joshua), which means "The Lord is salvation." "Christ" is from the Greek for the Hebrew Messiah (Messiah), meaning "Anointed one."
 Wilderness, (Gk., eremia, solitude). An arid desert, sparse wild and uninhabited region, hence a place of desolation.
 Incarnate, (Latin: in [in or into] and caro [flesh]), The act of assuming flesh; in theology, the gracious voluntary act of the Son of God in assuming a human body and human nature.
 Deity, recognized as God - 5 attributes, (1) Eternal; (2) Omnipresent; (3) Omniscient; (4) Omnipotent; (5) Immutable.
 Mason, Dr. Clarence E. Jr. Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Professor Emeritus, Philadelphia College of Bible, (c.1971) New Testament History: The Book of Matthew. Class Notes
 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Late President and Professor of Systematic Theology, "Systematic Theology - Baptism," Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas Seminary Press, Dallas, Texas.
 eipe, 2 p.sing.2 aor.act.imper. lego
 For more on this topic please see and study 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. In the background of this statement is that Lucifer did this very thing. He was so powerful and so close to Diety that he decided he could "grab away" God's power and authority and become "God" himself. This was not to be so with God's Son.
 I highly recommend the publication from Dallas Theological Seminary "Bibliotheca Sacra." It is available by subscription from the Seminary website. The references here to the Holiness of God are further refined in the article:
Gentry, Peter J., The Meaning of "Holy" in the Old Testament, Bibliotheca Sacra, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Tx., Volume 170, October-December 2014, Pages 400-17. Portions here used by permission.
 Bale seauton katow, 2 p.sing.2 aor.act.imp Ballw
 Charles C. Ryrie, Note on Verse 4:7, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, New International Version, Moody Press, Chicago, 1994
 "ouk ekpeiraseis kurion ton Qeon sou."
 upage, 2 p.sing.pres.act.imper, upagw
 1 John 2:15 note: "Cosmos (world) is that organized system headed by Satan that leaves God out and is a rival to Him."
 Isa. 14:12 ff., Lk. 10:18
 Ellis, Frank V., Senior Pastor, King's Baptist Church, Vero Beach, Fl
 (Thomas & Gundry)
 At least two of Jesus' first disciples will return to their occupation as fishermen - and then make a firm commitment to Jesus later.
 Toussaint, Stanley D., The Significance of the First Sign in John's Gospel, Bibliotheca Sacra, January-March 1977, Dallas Theological Seminary.
 Day one John 1:19-28, Day two :29-34, Day three :35-43, Day four :43-51, and then Day seven 2:1-11.
 Jesus' mother showed the same lack of understanding as John the Baptist and Peter did later on (Mt 11:2-3; 16:22). Though they were right as to His Messiahship, they were wrong as to the time and manner of its glorious manifestation (John 2:4). Jesus did perform a miracle to meet the need, but in a manner that revealed His identity to only a few (John 2:9, 11).
 Robert H. Stein, "Wine-Drinking in New Testament Times," Christianity Today, June 20, 1975, p. 19. Cf. Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971), p. 179, footnote.
 Morris, The Gospel according to John, p. 179.
 B. F. Westcott, The Gospel according to St. John (1881; reprint, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954), p. 36.
 Towards the close of Jesus' ministry He again cleanses the Temple after the resurgence of money changing there (Mt 21:12-13; Mk 11:15-18; Lk 19:45-46).
 This is the first of four Passovers during the public ministry of Jesus.
 If you are interested in the Symbolism of the Hebrew Seder meal, the Passover meal, please see: http://www.foi.org/free-resources/article/passover-lamb/
 The Greek word pneuma, means both wind and spirit - a play on words.
 The meaning is clearer when translated as "but" instead of "and."
 Matthew 12:24, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."
 Numbers 21:5-9, the Bronze serpent symbol was lifted up (judgment [bronze] upon the serpent). When an Israelite was bitten by a snake, looking to the "judged serpent" kept them from dying from the snake bite.
 Num 21:6-8; Deu 8:15; Isa 6:2-6; 14:29; 30:6; Rev 4:4-8
 Gentry, Peter, Professor OT Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theo. Sem. Louisville, Ky, "The Meaning of Holy in the Old Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra 170 p. 410 f.
 Eternal Life - not a continuation of this Earthly life, but a new life with an Eternal quality.
 Using the Jewish time system (6 am the first hour), about noon.
 For a man to speak in public to a woman who was a stranger and for a Jew to converse with a Samaritan was most unusual.
 Drinking from a Samaritan's water vessel would make a Jew "Unclean."
 John 4:22
 John 15:25, "These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father."
 The temple at Samaria
 God had given that responsibility to the Jew - Jesus the Christ, the author of Salvation was a Jew, salvation is from Him.
 What a joy to see whom the Father seeks - those who Worship Him in Spirit and in Truth!
 Billy Graham, Radio Ministries
 Walter Chalmers Smith
 Another clear affirmation form Jesus Himself that He is the Messiah.
disciples would have the joy of reaping souls, the seed having been
sown by OT prophets and John the Baptist, as well as Jesus and His
disciples. Most of that reaping would
have to wait until after Jesus'
death and resurrection and the building of the Body of Christ - The
Church - White unto Harvest!