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Week 4 – January 27-31:
Monday – Mark 1:1-8 (cf. Matthew 3:1-6; Luke 3:1-6): If Mark intends for his gospel to have a title, this is probably it, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (v. 1). Echoing Genesis 1:1, the introduction of Jesus is no less momentous than the creation of the world. Then Mark quickly moves to discussing the work of John the Baptist. John is important in all the gospels, not for his own sake, but as the beginning of the unfolding story of redemption which centers on Jesus.
In your own words, describe John’s mission (vv. 2-3), work (vv. 4-5), appearance (vv. 6), and preaching (vv. 7-8). What do you think it would be like to meet John?
Tuesday – Luke 3:7-18 (cf. Matthew 3:7-12): With a forceful and uncompromising tone, John bursts on the scene proclaiming a message of repentance and judgment. As the “crowds” flock to John, he challenges their motives (vv. 7-9; cf. to Matthew 3:7, “Pharisees and Sadducees”), calls for them to live out their repentant spirit by “bearing fruit of repentance” (vv. 10-14), deflects their Messianic expectations from himself (vv. 15-16) and warns them of the Messiah’s judgment to come (v. 17). Luke summarizes John’s work by saying, “With many exhortations he preached good news to the people” (v. 18).
Repentance and judgement aren’t always popular topics. How could you explain that these two elements of John’s message are indeed “good news” (v. 18)?
Wednesday – Matthew 3:13-17 (cf. Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22): The first appearance of John in Matthew’s gospel takes place in the context of John’s baptism. Unique to Matthew’s account is the exchange between John and Jesus in vv. 14-15. John, recognizing his inferior state (ref. Matthew 3:11-12) to the Savior states, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (v. 14). The substance of Jesus’ reply is clear enough: John is to overcome his objections and carry out the baptism as requested, “Let it be so not, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (v. 15). Jesus never rebelled against the Father’s will (see: 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22), so He did not need to be baptized for repentance of sin. However, the exact why behind Jesus’ words to John, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” is not spelled out in Matthew.
Using the following verses: John 1:31-34; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:3-11; Hebrews 2:17, how would you answer someone you questioned why Jesus was baptized?
Thursday – Luke 3:23-38: Whereas Matthew records Jesus’ lineage from Abraham thru David to emphasize Jesus’ Jewish heritage, Luke traces Jesus through seventy-seven men back to Adam to connect the Savior with all of humanity. From Matthew’s perspective, Jesus is the fulfillment of Abrahamic and Davidic promises, but in Luke, Jesus is the fulfillment of humanity’s hope of redemption. By placing Jesus in a human lineage that ends with God, Luke signals His dual identity, human yet divine, both Son of Man and “Son of God.”
Reflect on this idea, Jesus is one of us! He stands with humanity, sinful humanity nonetheless, which He came to redeem. How does this idea deepen your appreciation of Him?
Friday – Matthew 4:1-11 (cf. Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13): Immediately after identifying with humanity through baptism and heritage, Jesus goes into the wilderness to be tempted as a man. Three times the Devil tempts Jesus (vv. 3, 6, 9), three times He counters with the authority of Scripture (vv. 4, 6, 10; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:13, 16). The scriptures make God (the Holy Spirit here in Matthew) the author of “testing” (see: Genesis 22:11; Deuteronomy 13:3; Psalm 81:7), not in seeking to make a person fall but in the sense that He proves the depth of a person’s commitment. Having proven His commitment to God’s plan, Jesus will now embark on His public ministry. Jesus’ temptations appear to have little resemblance to ours. Yet, Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He was “in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Think of your fiercest temptation. In what way(s) is it like one of Jesus’ temptations? How will you combat your temptations in the same way Jesus did?