Chapter 23: Jesus’ Ministry Begins

Chapter 23_Mar 3

For God so loved the world, He sent his only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

How do you think you might feel if the next person in line to be baptized was the Son of God, the Messiah? Wouldn’t there be many questions? Wouldn’t proof be required? Perhaps; but Jesus did not go to just anyone. In Chapter 23, we get to know John the Baptist a bit better. By no means was John an ordinary preacher; wearing camel fur and a leather belt around his waist, eating insects. A little kooky? Maybe, but he had a destiny and God’s approval.

So, John is spreading the word of the coming Messiah. Then that day comes – the one where the Lord is next in line asking to be baptized. John does not ask for proof or rebuke what others might consider blasphemous, he is immediately humbled and asks why it shouldn’t be the Lord baptizing him instead. John consents and witnesses the Spirit of God descend upon Jesus and hears God proclaim Him as His Son.

The Lord is then led to be tempted by Satan. In today’s lingo, Epic Fail. Jesus tires of his tempter and rebukes him. After this test, Jesus begins His public ministry…with John the Baptist being his PR, witness and defender.

Two of John’s disciples become Jesus’ first disciples of twelve. Andrew, Simon (Peter), James (son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot become those chosen by Jesus. This seems to be around the time when John and Jesus went their separate ways and Jesus went about teaching. It is astonishing that word about Jesus traveled so fast, considering that word-of-mouth was all there was in those times. So, as Jesus and the disciples made their way around, flocks of people came from all over to hear and see Him; to be healed, touched, enlightened.

This was most certainly a trying and tiring time for Jesus. Despite healing all types of maladies, disease, rebuking demons and raising the dead, His persecution began immediately. His teaching was not what the leaders and even the religious lawyers thought it should be; His purpose not what they wanted. They weren’t looking to be “reborn” and for a Savior of the world. Even the good and faithful John the Baptist was a bit bewildered and disappointed in the Messiah’s work.

Do we, today, ask the same questions about Jesus as they did back then? We have our limits of understanding and naturally, as human beings, question most things. We have an innate desire to know how things work and “why.” This is why faith is our greatest asset. Salvation is a gift. It cannot be earned; it cannot be bought; and it is often misunderstood.

God has constantly and consistently shown His love, patience and desire to have a deep connection with His creation. In the coming chapters, we learn that Jesus’ sacrifice was the bridge to fill the immense gap between us and the Father. Though the mystery of God still remains, reading the Bible and prayer are two of the most important ways to learn about the heart of God and His purposes for us, His people. When confusion or despair sets in for us today, lets press in to the Bible and prayer so our hearts can remember this Jesus: who was, and is, and is to come!

Cheryl Grant

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