Based on Luke chapter 3 verses 1 – 20 & Matthew chapter 3 verse 13 to chapter 4 verse 11
Baptised and Tempted
‘Who warned you – you brood of snakes? Who warned you about the coming judgement?’
Did he know who he was talking to? Had John gone completely out of his mind? He was calling the people of Israel – Jews – descendants of Abraham – a bunch of evil snakes! This prophet, this man of the wilderness was certainly causing a stir! (PAUSE)
Just the look of John was enough to worry most people. His clothes were made of woven camel hair with a big leather belt around it all to hold it together! And he came out of the wilderness preaching … the Kingdom of Heaven was near.
‘Turn away from your evil deeds,’ he shouted. ‘And turn back to God before it’s too late! The Kingdom of Heaven is near.’
Just a short while before, this unusual man who had lived in the wilderness, eating locust and wild honey, had received a message from God. It was to time for him to start to warn the people to turn away from their evil ways and be baptised! But only non-Jews were baptised – to show that they had changed and wanted to become part of the Jewish people, Jews were already the people of God, weren’t they? Surely they didn’t need to be baptised?
‘Who warned you – you brood of snakes?’ John continued. ‘Who warned you of the coming judgement? Don’t just pretend to be holy, prove that you really are children of God by the way you live your lives. Show by your words and deeds that you have turned away from sin and turned back to God. And don’t think that you’re safe just because you happen to be Jews – descendants of Abraham! God could change these stones into children of Abraham if He wanted – just being born a Jew won’t keep you safe! For even now the axe of God’s judgement is poised, ready to blow, to cut at your roots! Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.’ When he talked about trees he was using it as an example of what would happen to the people, everyone who didn’t turn to God and live a good life would have to face terrible punishment!
As John preached, the people realised that something new was happening. Many years before a prophet called Isaiah had talked about John and written about him saying, ‘He is a voice shouting in the wilderness; ‘Prepare a pathway for the Lord’s coming! Make a straight road for Him!’’
So who was John? Could he be the Messiah himself? Was he the one they’d all been waiting for?
‘All those who turn away from their past self-centred lives and decide to live lives that please God, I baptise with water,’ John shouted. ‘But there is another person coming. And He is so much greater than me I’m not even worthy to be His slave. I baptise with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate out those who are truly children of God and those who only seem to be. Like a farmer separating the grains of wheat from the chaff they grew in, so He will separate those who love God and those who don’t. The one He will gather to Himself, but the other – like chaff – will be burnt with everlasting fire.’ So John was just a messenger – preparing the people for the coming Messiah. (PAUSE)
One day as John was preaching, Jesus arrived to see him – and asked to be baptised! ‘Surely not!’ said John. ‘Surely you should be the one baptising me? You don’t need to be baptised, you haven’t committed any sin?’
But Jesus looked at John and said, ‘John, it must be done. I must do everything that’s right.’
Shaking his head in amazement, John took hold of Jesus and lowered Him down into the water and then back out again. And as He came up out of the water the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God, in the shape of a dove, descended and settled on Him. And as this happened so a voice from Heaven – the voice of God – thundered, ‘This is my beloved Son, I am fully pleased with Him.’ (PAUSE)
As all these wonderful things happened, the devil, or Satan – for that’s his name, listened and watched. He heard the words of God – that Jesus was His Son and that He was fully pleased with Him. And thought about how to attack Jesus and ruin God’s plans.
No sooner was Jesus out of the water, filled with the Holy Spirit and with His ears ringing with those amazing words of God, than the Holy Spirit led Him out alone into the wilderness. For now, He was to be tested – and Satan was waiting. (PAUSE)
For 40 day and 40 nights, Jesus ate nothing until he was very hungry. And it was at this point when Jesus must have been longing for food that the devil started his attack.
‘So you’re the Son of God are you?’ Started the devil. ‘You must be very hungry after those 40 days and 40 nights without food. Tell you what, why don’t you prove you’re the Son of God by turning those rocks over there into bread?’
It was very clever, Jesus was hungry and he surely wanted some bread to eat, but if He turned the rocks into bread, then He’d have stopped trusting God. Trusting – that no matter how hard things got, God was still in control and would look after Him. And so Jesus answered Satan with some words from the Bible. ‘No, I won’t do that!’ He said, ‘Because the Bible says, ‘People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’
But the devil hadn’t finished. Taking Jesus to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem he used words from the Bible for his next attack! ‘If you are the Son of God, then jump off into the valley below – because the Bible says. ‘He will order His angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’
Again very clever! Satan was trying to make Jesus do something to prove He was the Son of God. Because – if Jesus did jump He’d have proved that He didn’t believe the words that God had clearly spoken to Him just 40 days before. ‘This is my beloved Son…’
But Jesus did believe God and felt no need to put it to the test, because when you believe something you don’t need to test it! And so He answered the devil with another verse from the Bible. ‘The Bible also says,’ He told him, ‘Don’t put the Lord your God to the test!’
Lastly, the devil took Jesus to the peak of a high mountain and showed him the glory of the world and the nations. ‘This is mine,’ he said. ‘And I will give it all to you – all I ask is that you kneel down and worship me.’
The devil was offering Him a shortcut! An easy way out! Jesus could kind-of fulfil what He’d come to do in one simple step. There wouldn’t be any need to face pain, rejection and death. He could be Lord of the whole world with this one simple shortcut – just bow down and worship Satan. But even though it might seem to be an easy answer, the cost would be far too high, it would cost Him His relationship with His Father in heaven – and that was a price He would not pay. So for the third time, Jesus answered the devil with words from the Bible.
‘Get out of here, Satan!’ He said, ‘For the Bible says, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’
At this the devil left, waiting for another chance to attack Jesus.