Tag Archives: baptism

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups – 560 – Jesus’ Temptation in the Desert

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

09/03/16 – 560 – Jesus’ Temptation in the Desert

At some point (it would seem not long after Jesus’ baptism), John the Baptist was thrown in Herod’s jail because he refused to endorse Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife , among other things. Herod was kind of a nut. He didn’t take kindly to people disagreeing with him, but was afraid of what the people might do if he just killed John, since they all believed he was a prophet. So to prison he went.

Jesus, in the meantime, underwent some very hard and special preparation before beginning His formal ministry here on earth.

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

 Notice how Satan always seems to show up when we’re at our weakest point?

 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.”

 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you

    to guard you carefully;

11 they will lift you up in their hands,             

    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Notice the one other huge lesson in there for us? Jsus was able to resist the devil not because he was the all powerful Messiah, Son of God. He did nothing magical. He was able to resist Him purely from citing and knowing the scriptures! He didn’t even have to know chapter and verse – He just had to know what it said and what it meant.

After 3 attempts, Satan knew he was wasting his time, so he left, but with plans to come back at “an opportune time”. Scary. What have those times been for you? Has he ever showed up? I know he has for me, unless I was prepared! Satan doesn’t like to lose. He’ll skirt the battle and leave to fight another day if he doesn’t think he has a chance of winning.

This story is barely mentioned by Mark, not mentioned at all by John, but told at length by Matthew and Luke. That’s OK. We might ask ourselves why Jesus didn’t take the easy way out – after all, who would it have hurt? The answer is – it would have hurt countless people as it would have undermined the integrity of His ministry on earth. For all the accusations made against Him, no one could ever find even one wrong that was legitimate.

Another reason could simply be as an example to us. To show us that we can stand strong in the face of adversity, take the unpopular position and carry through simply because it ‘s the right decision. Today let’s pray that the Holy Spirit living in us would transform us into people of integrity and strendth – no matter what the cost.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 559 – Jesus’ Baptism

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
09/02/16 – 559 – Jesus’ Baptism

Matt 3:13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

The gospel of Mark also includes an account of Jesus’ baptism, it’s probable that Matthew used Mark’s as his model. The 3 accounts do vary though, just enough to tell us they were written by people with 3 different views of the event. But notice the background, and the most important ‘take-aways’.

First, the ritual of baptism itself. From the earliest days of the tabernacle, there were basins (lavers) for ritual cleansing before making certain sacrifices or participating in certain rituals. Then John came along, and seems to have been going down a different road.

He wasn’t cleansing people for the purpose of performing some ritual, he was hearing their confessions and baptizing them by immersion in the Jordan river! He spent his life declaring that he was preparing a way for the promised Messiah. Some believed him, some thought he was just crazy. But, he was pretty much universally accepted as a prophet/rabbi sent by God Himself. Because of this he drew enough attention that he apparently had a good audience of people waiting to be baptized plus Pharisees and Sadducees that had come to watch one day when Jesus came walking up.

The importance? Many witnesses – which would become extremely significant later on. John recognizes Jesus not as his cousin, but obviously as the Messiah, and protests that it should be Jesus baptizing him, not the other way around. This is important point #2. Of course Jesus insisted. Have you ever noticed that He never asked us to do anything that He didn’t do Himself?
Then the miracle – in front of all those witnesses. The sky opened up, and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form, landed on Jesus, and everyone heard in an audible voice those famous words – “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”.

I noted 2 points as being very important. Here’s why. When Jesus’ authority is challenged later on, He has to show that His rabbinical authority to interpret scripture comes from the endorsement of 2 other authorities. So later on, after Jesus had been teaching and performing miracles, we read this:

Matt 21:23-25
Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism — where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”


They knew that John’s authority was recognized as having come directly from God, and that John had recognized Jesus’ authority. The second ‘endorsement’ was the one that came from heaven, in front of too many witnesses to be ignored. They knew it, and Jesus knew it. That’s why they had no answer.

It’s always important – even critical – to know where your authority lies. To know why you believe what you believe. It takes more than emotions, more than a warm fuzzy on Sunday morning. Let’s pray today for that deep pull of the Holy Spirit to take root in us, that we would truly want to know.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 558 – Jesus’ Return to Israel

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
09/01/16 – 558 – Jesus’ Return To Israel

Yesterday we read about Simeon, an old man in the temple who asked only one thing of God – the he be allowed to see the promised Messiah before he died. The moment he saw Jesus, the Spirit spoke to him and he knew who Jesus was, and declared it readily. He went on to dedicate and bless the baby – and make a pretty good prediction about Him as well.

Luke 2:31-38
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

We aren’t quite sure who Anna was either except for what the text says here. I’m not even sure whether she was moved by the Spirit herself or whether she was just believing in what Simeon had said. Either way, she accepted and believed – and began to tell others. You could probably call her the first evangelist!

So why is Luke bothering to give us all this background on Simeon and Anna? I believe he wants us to see that God’s message as much as God’s message is given to the whole world, it is only received by those that are ready and willing to accept it. For example, I can broadcast a radio signal around the globe, but only those people with their radios turned on and tuned to the right frequency will be able to hear my message.

How many of us have our radios turned on, even tuned to the right station, but have so much noise in our lives that we couldn’t hear God if He stepped on our house? By noise I mean real noise – constant music, TV, video games, cell phones, social media etc, plus busy-ness – just always caught up in a hundred little things that really mean nothing in the grand scheme, but make us somehow feel important.

We need to stop. We need to stop being afraid of the quiet, and just stop the noise. Take time to talk to God, and listen for His voice. He has already spoken to you in many ways. He has spoken through scripture. He has spoken through pastors, other Christian (wise) counsel. Just remember the Bible is always the acid test. Any time you think God is telling you something, check to see if it conflicts with the text. If it does, the voice you’re hearing is not from God. Run from it.

It will be tempting. It will sound nice. It will probably be something you want to do anyway, Run from it anyway. You will thank yourself (and God) later. I promise. Try it now. Turn off the TV and the phone. Ask God about the big questions in your life right now. Job? Relationship? Find the relevant scripture. If you need help, call your pastor, or contact me. Then, stay tuned.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 557 – Jesus’ Return to Israel

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
08/31/16 – 557 – Jesus’ Dedication To God

Good morning, everyone. I think I finally figured out where the Spirit is taking us with this one. We’ve already done the Christmas story (available here for those that missed it), and now the story of His family’s flight to and return from Egypt, we are going to keep right on going on the story of Jesus’ life on earth.

I’ll try to keep it as chronologically accurate as possible, but we’ve already skipped one important event, so just this once (maybe) I’d like to jump backwards a little bit. We did touch on this and the flight to Egypt in the Christmas story also, but not in this much depth. The event was Jesus’ circumcision.

Circumcision has become quite the controversial procedure today. Not so then, and not so for the devout Jew. God commanded Abraham that, as a mark of their covenant with Him, He and all male members of his family be circumcised. It would later become a controversy even among the first Christians, causing a major rift between Peter and Paul when the church doors were opened to Gentiles, but we can talk about that another time.

For Jesus, there was no question. He would be circumcised and dedicated to God when He was 8 days old.

Luke 2:21-32
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

I remember a Christmas choir cantata some years ago in which we sang a song about this. I had a hard time singing it, just putting myself in the place of this man who had been waiting his entire life asking for only one thing from God, and believing with all his heart that his prayer would be answered. He just wanted to see the Messiah before he died. And somehow, when he saw the baby Jesus, he knew. It was He.

This kind of knowledge only comes from one place, and that’s what I wa talking about the other day. It’s being in tune with God’s voice, so that when He speaks, even though it may be through the cries of an infant, you recognize it. Just as the sheep recognize their master’s voice, Simeon knew that this little one was the promised One. I’m pretty sure that’s not what He was expecting, but he was willing to hear. That is what made all the difference.

How is your communication with God going? Have you been able to hear Him lately, or are your conversations still pretty much one-sided? If so, Ask Him again to speak to you. Then BE QUIET AND LISTEN!!!!! If you do hear His voice (no matter which form He chooses to use) thank Him for that and keep up the good work.