Matthew 3:13-17 This is My Beloved Son P2

You know that there is a running joke in our culture that men do not talk about their feelings. In movies and TV shows we see women complaining about this behavior. Well, I am here to tell you that I talk about my feelings. That’s all I did this week! And I’m not sure Bridget likes that side of the coin either! This morning Bridget said, “I told people yesterday that we were getting better.” I responded, “Better is a relative term.” That is the fact of the matter isn’t it? Perspective is what we have to work with. Compared to Thursday I am doing ‘better.’ Compared to the Thursday before I am miserable. In athletics, teams are compared to other teams in their division. They may be a “great team” in the NFC West, but a terrible team in the NFC East. Great is a relative term in that situation. You may look at a women and say, ‘She is a wonderful mother.’ Wonderful is relative to what? Her children, her household, honestly – other mothers…

Words, and especially titles, are relative. Relative to Bridget my designation is husband. Relative to this church my designation is pastor. Relative to my parents my designation is son.
We run into this at the end of the section we covered last week about Jesus’ baptism.
This will be the main text of the sermon again this morning.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Matthew wants to focus on Jesus in this text. There were others surely there, remember John baptized Jesus and there were crowds gathering at the Jordan. The focus is not on the multitudes who would have witnessed this great event. The focus is not on John the Immerser of whom Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
The FOCUS is on JESUS. HE had been baptized…JESUS came up…opened to HIM…HE saw..

The word “immediately” tells that all of these splendid things described happened almost simultaneously. Jesus is immersed, comes out of the water and IMMEDIATELY the sky is ripped open, the Spirit descends, and a heavenly voice shouts out.

“The heavens were opened” recalls many OT and even NT visions. Ezekiel 1:1 says, “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions[a] of God.” ALSO SEE Isaiah in 64:1-6.

“Like a dove” is a simile (a comparison using like or as). It could mean that the manner of descent was like a dove or it could mean the form was like a dove. This is the only place in Scripture that presents this type of picture of the Holy Spirit.

“Voice from heaven” Intertestamental Period was about 400 years (traditionally understood). God was not speaking first hand to man and there was no Scripture being written. And…suddenly…a voice came from heaven! After all the silent years, a voice from heaven calls out…into the darkness, light bursts forth! “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON!!!”
“This is My beloved Son” The title Son of God is introduced and is immediately picked up in the next chapter. This again confirms the notion that Jesus is Israel fulfilled. The actual Israel was point to Christ who is the true Israel. The OT language of Israel as God’s son is now applied to Jesus. That He was “Beloved” (past tense- literally “with Him I was well pleased”) means that the Messiah was pre-elected. And I would go as far to say that the Son is eternally beloved of the Father (God is love).

In this text Jesus does not “become” the Son of God, but is “identified” as the Son of God. It is a relative term. He has now been marked out for the work of the Father. He has been commissioned with the salvation plan. The language of the Spirit marking Him is the language of anointing. Jesus is now anointed the Messiah-King, come to save His people. From the many years of history's silence God has spoken, "This is My beloved Son."

Know this: God has not forsaken us and is never unfaithful to His promises! Out of the silence His voice breaks forth, into the darkness His light bursts!

Matthew 3:13-17 This is My Beloved Son P1

Everything in the Gospel of Matthew thus far has been leading up to the text that we are about to study. Matthew lays out for his readers the coming of the long-awaited Messiah-King. That is the focus throughout Matthew’s Gospel account. His mission was to reveal the Messiah (the Christ) to those who read this book. Christ’s genealogy is given at the beginning, stating His royal bloodline, next the virginal conception is told, and, after His birth, His name is announced, “Jesus” meaning Yahweh saves! In chapter two we read that wise men from the east come to worship the King of the Jews, the toddler named Jesus. Also, Matthew tells us that there were OT prophecies being fulfilled in the life of Jesus all along the way. Then, as we saw last week, John the Baptizer came on the scene and prepared the way of the Lord and made His paths straight through his preaching and ministry of baptism. Finally, after great anticipation has been built, the Scripture says in v13 of C3, “Then Jesus came…”

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Point 1: John’s Baptism (v13)A. It is amazing to me that the first event that Matthew records of the Lord’s adult life is His going from Galilee to the Jordan, where John was, to be baptized by him. I don’t think it would have been arrogant for Jesus to call for John to come to Him in Galilee and baptize Him. Yet, Christ humbly traveled to John somewhere along the Jordan.
B. “Then Jesus came…” There is no way to know exactly when Jesus made this trip or even how long John’s ministry lasted, but the word “then” tells us that sometime when John was ministering and all of the people were going out to him to repent of their sins, Jesus came also. This is an important point that I would like to make again at the end of the sermon. The crowds were going out to John and Jesus also went.
C. Remember, John’s baptism was all about repentance. Matthew gave us one line from his sermons, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The preaching of the kingdom was about repentance from the onset. People needed to hear was a way out of their sins and a time of the restoration of all things. This message came by the word REPENT.
D. So John’s ministry was for SINNERS. Both his preaching and his baptism of water was unto repentance (3:11). Why in the world was Jesus going out to be baptized by John? He had no sin to repent of or wash away. This is the question I would like to answer today.

Point 2: Sinner and Sinless One (v14)A. We see a contrast btw the prophet John and the Lord Jesus- one a sinner, the other sinless.
B. In v7 John had rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for coming to his baptism because they were unrepentant and now he rebukes Jesus, but not for the same reason. He rebukes Jesus because Jesus had no need to repent! In v11 John said, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” In John’s mind, the Pharisees and Sadducees were not worthy of his baptism and his baptism was not worthy of Jesus.
C. John tried to prevent Jesus, because he knew that his baptism stood for repentance. He also said that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. The prophet was an humble man who recognized his own sin and the “sinlessness” of Jesus.

Point 3: Jesus Fulfilled All Righteousness (v15)A. This is why Jesus was baptized. He did not need to repent of sins and He did not need to be baptized because of sins. He was baptized “to fulfill all righteousness.” It is this statement by Jesus that prompts John to go ahead and baptize Him.
B. But that lends to the next question- what is all righteousness?
a. Jesus surely did this because it was a good thing.
b. He did this because it was a righteous thing.
c. It showed His submission to the Father’s plan.
d. It demonstrated His humility.
e. As we will see in coming weeks, this section in Matthew parallels the great event of Israel’s history- the Exodus. His baptism parallels the passing through the Red Sea (and I will point out the other parallels as we continue in this study). Thus we can also say that Jesus’ baptism identified Him with Israel.
C. All of these things hold true, but I think there is one, primary purpose for Jesus’ baptism.
a. He was baptized to demonstrate His association with all sinners.
b. Christ had no need to repent, but was immersed in the waters of Jordan to identify with the people. In His baptism, Jesus became the Messianic representation of Israel and all mankind. At the inauguration of His ministry, He showed that He would be responsible for the people’s sins.
c. Jesus admits that John’s objection was valid and assures him that at this time it was necessary. He says, “Permit it to be so now.” It was at this point in salvation history that Jesus would assume the role of the Suffering Servant. In His baptism, He showed His willingness to take on that role and identify with the people, identify with you and me.
d. The Scripture says in Romans 8:3, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh…” He was not sinful flesh, but came in the likeness of sinful flesh so that He could condemn sin.
e. Three Scriptures testify to this point: (1) Christ “emptied” Himself of the independent use of His divine attributes and came in the likeness of men so that he could die for the sin of the world [Phil 2]. (2) He came in the likeness of sinful flesh so that He could condemn sin [Rom 8]. (3) And in His baptism, Christ immersed Himself into humanity
f. “In order for Him to fulfill all of God's righteousness, in order for Him to purchase righteousness for anybody, Christ had to identify with sinners; and in the incarnation, Jesus saw Himself as one with sinful men.” Baptism was His first public display of this fact.

This sermon is shorter than others because I want to look at this text again next week in order to cover some things that we haven’t today. Instead of making it longer and discussing some other points, I want us to leave today with one understanding that I hope you will treasure-

***In Jesus’ baptism, He identified Himself with sinful humanity.***

This is not only the meaning of His baptism, but the incarnation. This is why Jesus came. There are two book-ends in the ministry of Christ- (1) His Baptism (2) His Crucifixion. These two have the same focus- Christ loves us and He gave Himself for us. This is the grace of God. Do not set it aside…do not trivialize it… If you do, then Christ died in vain, you have voided our faith…
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, was immersed into humanity for us.

Matthew 3:1-12 A Kingdom of Repentance

By definition, a Christian is someone that has repented. Now repentance, in the Biblical sense of the word, is not simply to change one’s mind, but it combines both the Greek sense and Hebrew sense of the word. In Greek, the word was more technical meaning to change one’s mind, intellectually. In Hebrew, it meant more of the sense to be sorry for one’s sins. When we combine these two understandings we have the Biblical definition- Repentance is to be sorry for one’s sins and turn from them, but we have to turn to something. We will get to that at the conclusion of this sermon.

So being a Christian, by definition, means that you have said that you are sinful, you are poor in spirit, bankrupt before the eyes of God, you have genuinely fallen short of the glory of God. That is how the Kingdom of God came into this world- the preaching of repentance. And it was John the Immerser that inaugurated the kingdom. He was the precursor to Christ, the one who “Prepared the way of the LORD and made His paths straight.”

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

I. Verses 1-3A. “In those days” seems to not concern itself with strict chronological accuracy, but Matthew means to say that what he is about to write is historically true. So, sometime after Jesus’ family moved back to Nazareth John, His cousin, came preaching.

B. John was a common name in Israel at that time and even dating back to around 100 B.C. This John was set apart, though, by his ministry of Baptism. Thus he was called “John the Baptizer” or we could call him “John the Immerser.” He called on people to repent of their sins and be baptized in water. This is the same practice that Jesus and His disciples carried on in their ministry. And we will see in just a few minutes that this was just a precursor to what baptism would soon come- baptism with the Holy Spirit.

C. John immersed those who came to them, but the call came through his preaching. He came preaching in the desert of Judea. This seems to be a phrase that refers to prophets. The word of his message came from the desert and all came out to him to hear and be baptized. Much like the key point in Israel’s history thus far, the Exodus from Egypt, the people are found once again in the desert. Moses declared the Word of God to those of the Exodus and it marked a crucial time in the history of the people and now John is found preaching the Word of God in the desert at the verge of a new beginning in their lives and in their history.

D. What did John the Immerser have to say? “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The preaching of the kingdom was about repentance from the onset. There is no doubt that what people needed to hear was a way out of their sins and a time of the restoration of all things. This message came by the word REPENT. And in John’s preaching, repentance was based on the kingdom of heaven being near; “at hand.” Matthew leans toward the phrase “kingdom of heaven” which is the same as “kingdom of God.” This kingdom is marked by repentance and when entering into it one enters life. I think a simple definition would be what Jesus had to say in His prayer during the Sermon on the Mount, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” The coming of the kingdom is the coming of God’s will and we know that His will is for people to turn from their sins and into life eternal.

E. The nearness of the kingdom was at the crux of the message. The people in Israel were constantly looking for the inauguration of the kingdom and looking for the Messiah King of the kingdom. In John the Immerser’s preaching both were announced. That was a good reason for repentance.

II. Verses 4-6A. John’s preaching was no doubt stern and so were his surroundings, clothes, and diet. Can you picture a man standing out in the desert wearing camel’s hair and a leather belt? This is the dress of a prophet. It was also widely known that he ate locusts and wild honey.

B. It is said that many people attempted to disguise themselves as prophets by dressing like this so that they could gain a following, but John was the complete package. He withdrew to the desert, dressed in camel’s hair, ate locusts and wild honey, baptized, and preached daily. He was the one that Isaiah spoke of in 40:3 when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘ Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.”

C. The whole region came out to him. Now, in my mind, this took place because people earnestly are seeking for more. The Scripture tells me “There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.” Yet, though we do not seek after God, I think that there is a sense of urgency in the hearts of people. They were ready for a message of repentance. And, by acceptance of the message, the people admitted that they did not seek after God, but had sought out their own sinful desires.

III. Verses 8, 10A. John told the legalistic, hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” and then “do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.” There is no room in the kingdom for those who rely on themselves or the help of tradition. The fact that they were physical descendants of Abraham meant nothing to John and it means nothing to God for God seeks fruits worthy of repentance. If God wanted children of Abraham, He could raise them from the stones. Their heritage meant nothing only repentance from their sins because the kingdom was coming with full force.

B. Fruit is what comes from true repentance. Our actions must be in harmony with our oral repentance, and if we are intellectual repentant then it will show in our behavior. Are you sorry for your sins? Then demonstrate that in what you do before the eyes of the Lord. Do you say that you have turned from your sins? Then display that before the eyes of the Lord by what you do. “Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

IV. Verses 11-12A. John only baptized with water, but he promised that One would come after him that would be mightier than him. We know that Jesus is the One of whom John spoke. John promised that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and we know that word come to pass.

B. The coming of God’s reign through the person of Jesus in the kingdom of heaven either demands repentance of brings judgment. That’s what is meant by the stern, almost harsh, phrase “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” The message of the kingdom is the same today, Repent or Face Judgment.

Repentance implies that there is something wrong in the world. Christians call that problem sin. The cross of Christ demonstrates that truth most clearly. Sin had to be dealt with by God. This is what we turn to when we turn away from our sins. We are sorry for our sins and turn from them to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

“The reason the death of Christ is the heart of gospel—the heart of the good news—is God was doing it. Romans 5:8: ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ If you divide God’s activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God’s doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners, His love for you…”

God shows His love for us…Christ DIED!!!
If you try to separate God’s love from the death of Christ, you have NO gospel. When we repent we must turn from our sin to something, most specifically some One- Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of repentance and it was not just inaugurated by repentance, but is marked by it even ‘til today. We are Christians: those who admit that they are wrong, sinful, broken, poor in spirit, and utterly helpless. This morning, whether you have known Christ for many years or you have never committed your life to Him, repent and turn to Him for the Kingdom of Heaven is here and will be known more fully when He soon returns.

Bread of Bethlehem

The Old Testament tells us very little about the small town of Bethlehem. Chronicles tells us that Salma, Caleb’s son, was the “father of Bethlehem” meaning that he was the founder, but we are not sure of any other information of Bethlehem’s beginnings. Rachel, Jacob’s wife, is known to this day as being buried in a tomb near the town. We are also told that this particular village was the birthplace of David who eventually became the legendary king of Israel. He was a shepherd of his father’s flock in the fields of this area. This is where he was anointed king of Israel who would follow Saul’s reign. It is also the setting of much of the book of Ruth which traces King David’s heritage. Later in Old Testament history, Micah prophesies that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. In chapter five verses two through five Micah says,

2 “ But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
3 Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel.
4 And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God;
And they shall abide, For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
5 And this One shall be peace.”
It was fitting for the Messianic “Son of David” to be born in David’s birthplace.

I. Bethlehem – House of Bread
After bringing to light all of these details one would assume that Bethlehem had a rather significant position in the minds of Hebrew people, but that is not the case. From Old Testament times into the 1st Century, Bethlehem was fundamentally irrelevant. A small village five miles south of Jerusalem where there were fertile fields and lots of shepherding was all that came to mind for the average Jew. “The House of Bread” is what the name Bethlehem means. Yet, for the ancients, there was not much significance in the name either. For Christians, there is great significance!
"Christmas Was and Is for Salvation
John 3:16–17, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, [that’s Christmas and Good Friday all in one - why?] that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world [Christmas is not for condemnation],
but in order that the world might be saved through him [Christmas is for salvation].”

And at the end of his life, Jesus was standing before Pilate, and Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” And Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world [this is the purpose of Christmas—what is it?]—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37)."
II. I Am the Bread of LifeJohn 6: 47 “’Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.’”

Jesus said He came for a purpose. He was born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread, for a purpose. His purpose was to bear witness to the truth. And what is the truth? Who is the truth? Jesus. Bread was essential for life and family for those who encountered Jesus and so He says that he is the bread of life. If we eat of His bread we will not die and the bread he offers is Himself. Christ offered up Himself as a sacrifice – Once for All. We consume the Bread of Life by believing in God’s Son and digesting His Word. This leads to my final point.

III. This is My Body
Matthew 26: 26 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’”

The beginning of Christ’s first advent, the middle of His first advent, and now we see the end were marked by the staple of life in the 1st century world. His entire incarnation was represented by bread; His birth, ministry, and death. The Lord’s Supper is about the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. Who was incarnate first in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and birthed by Mary who had never known a man.

Conclusion: The Bread that came down from heaven descended first to the little village of Bethlehem which means “House of Bread.” That Bread is the Lord Jesus Christ who later said, “I Am the Bread of Life” and “Take, eat; this is My body.” That bread has no yeast. He was the sinless Son of God who came in the likeness of sinful man. This is the 1st Advent. From the beginning of His incarnation to the end He was represented by the most essential part of life in the ancient world- BREAD. If I polled each one of you this morning and asked what you thought was the staple food of American existence I would probably get a dozen or more different answers. Some of you may say bread, others may say eggs or something, and many of you would say potatoes. My grandfather likes to tell the story of his childhood when seemingly every meal was some variation of potato. He said that his mother once fixed potatoes seven different ways and spread them out on the table for a big meal! Yet, today we do not quite understand what it means to have a staple food that we rely on day in and day out. Bread was vital for families of ancient times. That is why Jesus teaches His disciples to pray along the lines of “Give us this day our daily bread.” Bread was something sought after daily for life to continue!

Jesus must be sought after daily for life to continue! He is truly the Bread of Life. If I can accomplish anything with this sermon I would hope for two things:

* 1. When you think of Christmas, think of the cross. *
* 2. When you think of the Lord’s Supper, think of the Bread of Life. *

The first Christmas, and every Christmas since has been about one thing- the cross of Christ. Revelation 13:8 says that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. Before the world was created and Adam was formed, there was a plan. (And I hesitate to use the word plan because it does not convey the necessity and certainty of what was to happen). There was no doubt that before history Christ would intrude history; no doubt that before time Christ would interrupt time. That is why John could open his Gospel account with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Though Christmas has passed, it will come again, as each year of history flows. Yet, the greatest event of history continues to endure- the cross of Christ. The cross binds us together, saints of old and saints to come. To us who are being saved the cross is the power of God. May God forbid that we should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ during the year 2011.