THE BAPTISM AND TEMPTATION OF JESUS
1 John 3:5, ESV
You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
MATTHEW 3:13-15, NIrV
13 Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River. He wanted to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to stop him. So he told Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you. So why do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be this way for now. It is right for us to do this. It carries out God’s holy plan.” Then John agreed.
John had baptized hundreds of people in the Jordan River. But when Jesus ask to be baptized, John told him, “No way!” Why would John say no to the Son of God? Because baptism was a thing sinful people needed to do, not someone sin-less like Jesus! Despite this, Jesus told John he needed to be baptized; it was an important part of his rescue mission. Saving sinners was going to take more than just dying on a cross to pay for their sins. Jesus also had to live his life doing the things sinners were supposed to do: things like obeying God’s laws, serving others, and even being baptized.
+ What did John say when Jesus asked to be baptized by him? (vs. 14)
+ After Jesus spoke with him, what did John agree to do? (vs. 15)
MATTHEW 3:16-17, NIrV
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened. Jesus saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove. 17 A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.”
John had dunked loads of people in the Jordan River before Jesus. But none of those hundreds of baptisms featured the amazing sights and sounds of Jesus’ baptism! A bright light shining through the clouds, a mysterious voice speaking from the sky, and God’s Spirit resting upon Jesus: all these things made it clear to John (and those of us reading about it) that Jesus was no ordinary guy! The incredible events of Jesus’ baptism were God’s way of letting us know who Jesus was. They were like a glowing sign saying, “This Jesus is the Christ, the special savior the world's been waiting for!”
+ What did God’s Spirit do? (vs. 16)
+ Who was the voice speaking from heaven? Hint: the voice called Jesus “Son.” (vs. 17)
LUKE 4:1-4, NIrV
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan River. The Spirit led him into the desert. 2 There the devil tempted him for 40 days. Jesus ate nothing during that time. At the end of the 40 days, he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man must not live only on bread.’ ”
Right after his baptism, God’s Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. For 40 days, the devil (an evil angel and God’s #1 enemy) used everything from his bag of evil tricks to try to get Jesus to break God’s commands. Why? Because Jesus couldn’t save sinners if he became a sinner, too! Luke tells us about three of the many tricks the devil tempted Jesus with during those days. First, he asked Jesus to use his Son-of-God power to turn stones into bread. But Jesus didn’t take the devil’s bait! He answered with the words of a Bible verse and refused to use his miracle power to turn a pile of rocks into lunch!
+ When Jesus said, “As it is written,” he was talking about God’s words written in the Bible. The Bible verse that Jesus spoke to the devil comes from the book of Deuteronomy. Look up and read Deuteronomy 8:3. What does God say is even more important for our life than bread?
LUKE 4:5-8, NIRV
5 Then the devil led Jesus up to a high place. In an instant, he showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. 6 He said to Jesus, “I will give you all their authority and glory. It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God. He is the only one you should serve.’ ”
Can you imagine what it would be like to be king of the entire world? To live a life where everyone on the planet had to do exactly as you say? That’s what the devil offered to give Jesus in his second tricky temptation. However, there was a catch: to receive this power, Jesus had to bow down and worship the devil! This would have made Jesus’ life a lot easier; he wouldn’t have to die on a cross! But did Jesus take the devil up on this delicious deal? Nope! For a second time, he answered using the words of a Bible verse, reminding the deceitful devil that worship belongs to God alone.
+ Why would it be hard to say no to the devil’s tempting offer to rule the world?
+ Look up and read Deuteronomy 6:13-14. This is the verse that Jesus spoke to the devil. According to this verse, why would it have been a sin for Jesus to worship the devil?
LUKE 4:9-13, NIRV
9 Then the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem. He had Jesus stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 It is written,
“ ‘The Lord will command his angels to take good care of you.
11 They will lift you up in their hands.
Then you won’t trip over a stone.’ ”
12 Jesus answered, “Scripture says, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’ ”
13 When the devil finished all this tempting, he left Jesus until a better time.
For his third tricky temptation, the devil took Jesus up to the highest part of the temple building and told him to jump off like he was a superhero. The devil even used words from the Bible book of Psalms to support his crazy plan! In that verse, God promised to send angels to protect his people from danger. But the devil was twisting the real meaning of that Bible verse. Jesus said that God doesn’t want us to test him, doing dangerous stunts on purpose so angels have to rescue us! After failing for 40 days to get Jesus to sin, the devil left, planning to come back and try again later!
+ Jesus answered the devil with a verse from Deuteronomy. What did he say? (vs. 12)
+ Read Mark 1:12-13. What extra information does he give us about Jesus’ temptation?
JOHN 1:28-29, NIRV
28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan River. That was where John was baptizing.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him. John said, “Look! The Lamb of God! He takes away the sin of the world!
The Bible has four gospels: good-news books that tell the story of Jesus’ life. Each of these books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell the story of Jesus’ baptism. In the verses we read today, we learn an extra detail about something John the Baptist said when Jesus came to him. He called Jesus the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Why would John call Jesus a lamb? Was he covered in white fur? Did he wander around eating grass and saying, “Baa!” all the time? Of course not!
The people who heard John call Jesus “the Lamb of God” would have known exactly what he meant. In their country of Israel, in the city of Jerusalem, there was a special building called the temple. What made the temple so special? It was the one place on the planet where God promised to meet with his people!
Each day at the temple, the priests (the temple workers) sacrificed two lambs, one in the morning and one at night. These lambs had to be spotless: there could be nothing wrong with them. The priests killed these lambs and burned their meat on a special fire called an “altar.” The death of these lambs was a daily reminder that sin (disobeying God’s commands) brings the curse of death. By offering up a lamb in their place for their sins, God’s people were reminded that they needed his forgiveness.
Do you understand now why John called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”? Like the spotless lambs that were sacrificed morning and night, Jesus was spotless and sinless. The devil tried all his best tricks and temptations, but Jesus never broke even one of God’s commands.
Jesus was perfect, every single second of his life! All the good deeds that sinners (like you and me) were supposed to do, he did perfectly in our place. He loved God. He loved others. He didn’t lie, cheat, or steal. He was even baptized. Everything that was our job to do, every single one of God’s rules, he did them all for us!
Like the priests killed the lambs as a sacrifice for the sins of the people, Jesus was also going to be killed. A few years after his baptism, his arms and feet would be nailed to a wooden cross. There, Jesus would offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins of his people. After perfectly living his life in our place, he would also die in our place. His death paid the curse of our sins.
Every day for almost a thousand years, priests offered lambs at the temple for the sins of the people. The sad truth was – even the sacrifice of a million spotless lambs could never pay the punishment for our sin. But what all those lambs couldn’t do, Jesus did in a single day, in a single death. When Jesus died, the sinless “Lamb of God” paid for the sins of the entire world, once and for all!
+ When John saw Jesus, what did he call him? (vs. 29)
+ How was Jesus like the spotless lambs the priests sacrificed at the temple each day?