Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Oct 3, Mt 3, Mk 1, Lk 3

Readings for today are Mt 3, Mk 1 and Lk 3. Tomorrow's are Mt 4, Lk 4-5.

The Baptist is baptizing in Mt 3. His baptism is one of repentance. By the tone of the chapter, no one sees this as unusual. In reality, baptism (immersion) was fairly common back then. There was a cleansing ritual in a pool known as a mikvah. It was used for worship utensils, women who had menstruated and new converts to Judaism as well as a few sacred rituals that required cleansing. The mikvah was a shadow of the true baptism to come. Even John's baptism is a shadow. Both the mikvah and John's baptism of repentance represent the cleansing believer's experience as they are immersed (baptized) in Christ. 

Notice that Pharisees and Sadducees are coming to John's baptism. Either they are coming out to see what is going on or they are actually getting baptized. If they are being baptized, for most of them, it cannot be with contrite hearts as these are the very same people who will turn on Jesus and reject Him. In this we see a biblical truth. The sacrament of Baptism does not guarantee salvation. It must be done as a testimony of one who is already saved.

Jesus shows up and insists on being baptized "for us to fulfill all righteousness." This accomplishes two things, #1, Jesus does it according to the will of the Father. #2, Jesus affirms John's ministry. All three members of the Trinity make a stunning appearance as Jesus comes up out of the water after being baptized.

Mark writes to a gentile audience. Mark's primary theme is discipleship; what it means to be a disciple, what it will cost and how Jesus will set the tone as a suffering servant, all the while offering hope for redemption to the faithful.

Mk 1 portrays John the Baptist as an Elijah-like figure (2 Kings 1:8). The Baptist is indeed the second Elijah and a fulfillment of prophecy.

Immediately after John baptizes Jesus, the Spirit drives Jesus out to the wilderness where He is tempted by Satan. It is significant that the Spirit is the one who sends Him out. God has a part in all that happens even in how Satan is used to prove the faithfulness of Christ. Satan did not ambush Jesus, the Spirit took him there. 

The very first thing Jesus expereinces, as He enters into His ministry and calling, is temptation and an encounter with the evil one. Jesus is faithful to answer each temptation by reciting Scripture, a perfect model for how to engage in spiritual warfare. Jesus does not practice histrionics, shouting and a lot of drama. He simply quotes the truth to Satan. Satan has no defense and has to leave. 

In Lk 3, John is baptizing and warns that he only baptizes with water but one is coming that will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire (Lk 3:16). A careful reading of the context for this verse reveals that John is actually saying that Jesus will baptize either in the Holy spirit or in judgment. This is contrary to what many believe this verse says. They hear that believers will be baptized in water and "power". But the following verses tells us the fire John mentions will burn away the chaff and "winnow" out those who are evil. It is the fire of judgment. Believers will be cleansed. Those who reject God will be judged. Jesus will be the standard of measure, the dividing line. He is bringing a baptism of water or fire. Every person who ever exists will experience one or the other.

Luke's genealogy, being written for a non-Jewish audience, goes all the way back to Adam. By the time we read Lk 3 and Matthew's genealogy, we see that Jesus is affirmed as a Jew and as a flesh and blood man. Jesus is God, as we will see. Yet, He is a man as the genealogies show.

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