READ Luke 1: 26-38. The story of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is known to most people. The celebration of Christmas has left most people with at least a vague idea about the manner of His birth. But what does the Bible tell us about the earthly arrival of God's Son?
It begins with the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary. This event alone insures us of two vital facts concerning Jesus. First, His life on this earth was ordained and planned by God the Father. Jesus life on this earth was "foreordained before the foundation of the world." (1 Pe. 1:20) God knew before He created the world and all that was in it, that He would one day send His Son to earth to save men from their sins.
Secondly, the plan of God was meticulously worked out by God Himself. There were many things that had to be fulfilled before Christ would come. Every single person whom the Lord would interact with had to be present. Every necessary role had to be filled, ie: a righteous man to serve as Jesus' dad, an emperor who would call for an empire wide census, twelve men that would follow Him during His ministry, including one who would reject and betray Him. It was only when "the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law." (Gal. 4:4)
In the events described in Luke 1: 26-38, we begin with God sending the angel Gabriel to the city Nazareth. He is to visit a virgin named Mary who is betrothed (engaged) to a man named Joseph. Joseph was of the family of King David. This was important because it fulfilled the prophecy that the Christ would be of David's lineage. (2 Sam. 7: 12-15, Isaiah 11: 1-5) Equally important is that Mary was a virgin; she had never had intercourse. This is also offered as an objection by Mary to Gabriel in verse 34. You see, this was necessary in order for this Jesus to be the Son of God. This also fulfilled the prophecy found in (Isaiah 7:14). Gabriel explains this process in verse 35, eliminating any possibility that God's Son was in reality the seed of a man.
In verse 31 Mary is told the child will be called "Jesus". Jesus is a variation of the Hebrew name Joshua, it's meaning is "God saves" or "God is salvation". Verse 32, "He will be "great", and will be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David." Again the fulfillment of God's promise to David. However, this throne is not an earthly throne, nor will His kingdom be an earthly kingdom. This different kingdom of which Israel was only a "type", an imperfect shadow of a better thing to come is a spiritual kingdom. It was established on earth as Christ's Church (Mt. 16:16-19). This truth is indicated in verse 33, in the fact that His kingdom will have no end. It is eternal and will continue in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21)
Gabriel mentions to Mary in verse 36 "Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren." Luke has recorded this account of Elizabeth's pregnancy in Luke 1:5-25. Gabriel tells Mary this to reinforce his next words in verse 37, "For with God nothing will be impossible."
One of the greatest witnesses to Mary's heart is found in verse 38. After hearing what Gabriel has said, Mary has no protests. She knows this is God's will for her, her words to the angel are simply, "Behold! the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." Mary has a great desire to serve the purposes of God.
STUDY QUESTIONS FROM LESSON ONE:
1. Why was it important that Jesus not be born of an earthly man?
2. When did God realize that He would have to send His Son to save men?
3. Whose throne would God give Jesus?
4. What is the meaning of the Hebrew name Jesus?
5. What power would cause Mary to conceive Jesus?
We do not have many details about the Life of Jesus after His birth up to the start of His ministry. We know that while still an infant the Magi came to see this newborn King and shortly thereafter He was taken by Mary and Joseph to Egypt to escape King Herod's attempt to kill Him. (Mt. 2:1-18) After Herod's death Jesus was taken back to Nazareth in Galilee where He would grow to maturity. (Mt. 2: 19-23) Luke in his Gospel records that at the age of twelve Jesus was accidentally left behind in Jerusalem during the Passover. When Mary and Joseph found Him, Jesus was sitting in the temple listening and questioning the teachers; to the amazement of many. (Lu. 2:42-52)
We suspect the rest of Jesus' formative years were as most Israelite males. He went each year to Jerusalem for the Passover. (Lu. 2: 41) He learned carpentry from Joseph. (Mk. 6:3) With no further mention of Joseph after Jesus was left in Jerusalem at age twelve, we assume that by Jesus' entry into adulthood, Joseph had likely died. This would necessitate that Jesus being the eldest of Mary's sons (Mk. 6:3) became the provider for His earthly family.
It is not until the appearance of John the baptist, the forerunner to the Messiah that we learn more about God's Son. John was the son of Elizabeth and Zacharias, relatives of Mary. Jesus was likely a cousin to John. John was approximately six months older than Jesus.
As forerunner to the Messiah, John was to preach the message to Israel that the Messiah was at hand and heartfelt repentance from sin was needed. (Mt. 3: 1-6) The public expression of this repentance was made by one being baptized. Those baptized by John had their sins forgiven by God. (Mk. 1: 4, 5)
There were some who came to John who refused to repent of their sins. Matthew tells us that they were some of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Mt. 3:7-9) John filled with the Holy Spirit from "the womb" (Lu. 1:15) knew those who were genuine in their repentance, just as Jesus knew that which "was in a man." (Jn. 2: 24, 25) So John rebuked them and urged them to "bear fruits worthy of repentance." (Mt. 3: 7, 8)
The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 7:9, 10, that true repentance is the result of "godly sorrow." Godly sorrow is a feeling of remorse that we have sinned against God. True repentance is seen in a changed life; one which no longer conforms to the normal worldly behavior of men. (Rom. 12:2)
When John the baptist saw Jesus he knew immediately that Jesus was the Messiah (Jn. 1: 29, 30) However, John was very reluctant to baptize Jesus. (Mt. 3:14) But, Jesus' response to John, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness", convinced John to baptize Him.
It is here that we find the truth about Jesus' baptism. He did not need to be baptized, because He had no sins to be forgiven of! The Hebrew writer reminds us of the sinless nature of our Lord in Heb. 4:15). This was necessary for Jesus in order to be our atoning sacrifice. He literally had to be a "lamb without spot or blemish." (1 Pe. 1:19) Jesus had to be sinless so that He might bear our sins. (2 Cor. 5:21)
So what did Jesus mean by being baptized "to fulfill all righteousness?" In order for Jesus to be our Savior He had to put on human flesh and become like us. He had to be tempted just as we are. He had to live the whole human experience just like us! He had to submit Himself to the same obedience to God the Father and God's laws and statutes, like any man who wished to please God. God made it clear through John's message that all men needed to repent and be baptized. Jesus being "found in appearance as a man" (Phil. 2:5-8) had to become humble and obedient to God, just like we.
It can rightfully be said that Jesus has given us an example that we should all follow. Today God calls on all men to repent of their sins and be "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) This requirement of God on our lives was validated by Jesus accepting it Himself. The fact that one must repent of their sins when they are baptized rules out infant baptism because an infant is incapable of true repentance.
After Jesus' baptism God gave His own approval to Jesus, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." (Mt. 3:17) Equally as important "the Spirit of God descended like a dove alighting on Him." (Mt. 3:16) This empowerment of Jesus marked the start of our Lord's ministry to man on the earth.
1. True or False, we know nothing about Jesus' life from age twelve until His baptism by John?
2. True or False, those who received John's baptism were required to repent of their sins?
3. True or False, if repentance of sins is required to be baptized, can infants be baptized?
4. True or False, John did not receive the Holy Spirit until he baptized Jesus?
5. True or False, Jesus had sins until He was baptized by John?
6. True or False, God still requires men and women to "Repent and be baptized?"
The baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of His ministry. This ministry lasted between three and three and one half years. Jesus would meet much opposition during this time. To prepare Himself for His ministry, Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to lead Him into the wilderness for the express purpose of being tempted by the devil (Mt. 4:1).
For the next forty days Jesus fasted. He fasted that He might meditate upon all that He would need to accomplish in His ministry. Being in the fleshly nature of an ordinary man (Phil. 2:5-8), it was necessary for Jesus to depend upon God for His direction in this ministry. It was also a show of His dependence on God to sustain Him during this fast. Scripture confirms to us that Jesus always did the will of the Father even though He, like you and I could have refused. (Jn. 8: 28, 29)
After these forty days of fasting were complete the devil came to tempt Jesus. The devil tempts all of us. Most of the time he does so impersonally through common worldly pleasures and desires. This is the very thought that Paul expressed to the believers in Corinth in 1 Cor. 10:13. However, there are times when the devil himself wants the opportunity to tempt us. Such was the case with Job (Job 1: 11, 12). The devil also requested of Jesus for the opportunity to tempt Simon Peter (Lu. 22: 31, 32). And, so now the devil appears to tempt the Son of God in an effort to destroy our only hope for salvation.
The first of these three temptations posed to Jesus was to alleviate the hunger that He was experiencing from forty days of fasting. However it is worded more as a challenge to the true identity of Jesus; "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." In addition to the temptation to abandon His dependency upon God and fill His own belly, the devil hoped that Jesus might feel the need to furnish proof that He was God's Son and perform a miracle for the devil.
Jesus and the devil were already acquainted. In fact with the devil being a fallen angel, he knew that the Lord Himself had created him because the Lord created all things (Col. 1: 15, 16). Jesus reply to this temptation was, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." This quote is from Deut. 8:3. This is a reminder to each of us that while bread might sustain physical life, eternal life comes by obedience to God's word. The faith necessary for our salvation only comes when we "hear the word of God." (Rom. 10:16)
The devil does not give up easy. His next challenge to Jesus is found in (Mt. 4: 5, 6). The devil takes Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and places Him at the highest point, approximately 460 feet above the earth. Again, the challenge is "If you are the Son of God." If you are then throw yourself down and capture the attention of everyone!
The devil's temptation is to make Jesus deviate from God's plan. Show everybody who you really are Jesus. Take a short cut and gain a huge following. Interestingly enough in John chapter six, Jesus feeds a multitude and the next day most of them did again follow Him until He started teaching them. You see, they wanted only food for the day, not food for eternity (Jn. 6: 26, 27).
The devil even uses Scripture to give credibility to his challenge. He quotes from (Ps. 91: 11, 12). "Don't worry Jesus! God will rescue you." Jesus' answer is both a rebuke and an affirmation that He as well as the Father are God! "It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God." The lesson for you and I is God's way is always the only way!
For his final effort at trying to cause the Lord to stumble the devil takes Jesus to a high mountaintop. There he shows the Lord all the kingdoms of the earth (Mt. 4: 8, 9). Some may think this impossible. After all there is no mountain in the world that would give anyone this kind of view of the entire population! But the devil is no without his own wonders and signs (2 Thess. 2: 9, 10). "All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me."
Again this temptation offers the Lord a short cut to reaching the entire world. The devil could likely deliver on his promise; he is in a sense the king of this sinful world (Eph. 2:2). The devil hoped that Jesus might buy in to the idea that He could somehow avoid the Cross and all of the pain and suffering for the sins of the world. An attractive option indeed, but again not an option for the Son of God. God had ordained before the creation that Jesus would redeem us with His precious blood (1 Pe. 1: 18-20). There could not be a plan B in our salvation. Only through Christ and His death! The Lord's answer was, "Away with you Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve." (Deut. 6:13)
After the Lord had sent Satan packing we are told in (Mt. 4:11) "angels came and ministered to Him." Just like you and I, Jesus knew that in "the form of man", He must depend on God.
1. True or False, Jesus' fasting for forty days showed that He trusted God to sustain Him?
2. Is the devil capable of producing wonders and signs?
3. True or False, God had never planned on sending His Son to die for us until after the sin of Adam and Eve?
4. Did all men who witnessed Jesus' miracles follow Him because they believed He would save them?
5. Does the devil ever ask God for permission to tempt us?