The Messiah Begins His Ministry
Read Matthew 3-4 out loud together
Where chapters 1-2 cover the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life, chapters 3-4 tell us about the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Interestingly enough, the beginning of Jesus’ ministry doesn’t begin with Jesus himself, but with a prophet called John the Baptist. In the first twelve verses of chapter three, we learn that John was an interesting character. He lived and ministered in the wilderness, ate bugs, and wore clothes made from camel’s hair. The most notable thing about John, however, was the role he played in preparing the people of Israel for the Messiah’s ministry. He preached repentance, baptized the spiritually humble, and admonished the spiritually proud.
At the end of chapter three, we read how Jesus’ identity as God’s son and as Israel’s Messiah is publicly affirmed through his baptism by John. Jesus is then led into the wilderness where he successfully resists the devil’s temptations with God’s Word. This scene demonstrates that Jesus is both a new and better Adam and the perfect Israelite, since where they were faithless when tempted, Jesus remained faithful.
After his temptation in the wilderness, Jesus goes back to his home region of Galilee to begin his public ministry, foreshadowing the global scope of the Messiah’s kingdom. Here Jesus calls his disciples, performs miracles, and preaches about this new kingdom.
- Why did John the Baptist admonish the Pharisees? What heart-level issue kept the Pharisees from bearing good fruit?
- What heart-level issues keep you from bearing the fruit of repentance in your life?
- What did the devil quote to tempt Jesus? What did Jesus quote to resist the devil? What does this interaction teach us about the importance of knowing God’s Word when facing temptation?
- Why is it important that Jesus is understood as a new Adam and perfect Israelite? Why is this good news for us today?
- How did the disciples respond to Jesus’ call to follow him? What did they leave in order to obey Jesus?
- Share a time when obeying Jesus meant leaving something important behind. How did God honor your obedience?
Ask God to give you a heart that bears the fruit of repentance in every aspect of your life and give you the faith to stand on and obey God’s Word – even when it means leaving something important behind.