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CHRISTOLOGY: THE DOCTRINE OF MESSIAH

By Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

This is the sixteenth Shofar study of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's Christology series.
Previous studies may be accessed by links in our
Library and Sound Doctrine pages.

  • Before Abraham was born, I am ~ John 8:58

  • I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me ~ John 14:6

  • He that hath seen me hath seen the Father ~ John 14:9

Few doctrines can be considered more fundamental than the nature, character and works of Messiah, and few teachers are able to convey such truths with the thoroughness, detail, accuracy, clarity, organization and fluidity that characterizes Dr. Fruchtenbaum. So let's sharpen our focus and continue.

Study 16: Ariel Ministries' Messianic Bible Study #032:

THE BAPTISM AND TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS

By Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

© 1983, 2005 Ariel Ministries. All rights reserved. No part of this manuscript may be reproduced in any form, except in brief quotation in a review or professional work, without written permission from the publishers. Cover illustration by Olivier Melnick.
Email: Homeoffice @ ariel . org. When email, remove the spaces.
Website: www.ariel.org.

This manuscript is republished by special permission of Ariel Ministries.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
I. THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
A. The Purpose of Baptism
B. The Purpose of Jesusí Baptism
II. THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS
A. Godís Purpose and Aim of the Temptations
B. Satanís Aim in the Temptations
C. The Representative Role of Jesus
1. Regarding Israel
2. Regarding All Men
D. Summary
E. The Proper Way to Resist Temptation

RECOMMENDED READING

Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

~ II Corinthians 5:21 ~

INTRODUCTION

In this study, we will learn about the birth and early life of Yeshua (Jesus) in the context of first century Jewish background and customs. This study will deal with the baptism and the temptations of Yeshua (Jesus). His baptism and temptations prepared Him for His public ministry.

I. THE BAPTISM OF JESUS

The baptism of Jesus was the last act of His private life and the first act of His public life. It was on this occasion that His public ministry was officially anointed by the Holy Spirit, though He did not actually ďgo publicĒ until a little while later. While His public ministry did not begin at that point, His public life indeed did.

Six months before Yeshua was actually identified by John as the Messiah at His baptism, John had already begun a ministry of preaching and had announced that the coming of the Messiah was very, very near. People were to prepare themselves for the reception of the Messiah. To prepare oneself for the Messiah meant to do three things: first, to repent, to come back to God; secondly, to believe the message that the King and the Kingdom are soon to come; thirdly, to publicly affirm oneís own repentance and faith in the preaching of the Kingdom by being baptized by John.

A. The Purpose of Baptism

The baptism of John and the baptism of the Church are not the same thing. The basic idea behind baptism is ďidentification.Ē When one is baptized, he identifies himself with a person and/or message and/or group. In fact, baptism was a Jewish practice long before it became a practice of the Church. Among the things that a Gentile had to do when he converted to Judaism was to be baptized. When a Gentile was baptized into Judaism, he was identifying himself with the Jewish people and with Judaism as his religion.

In the baptism of the Church, one identifies with the death, burial and Resurrection of the Messiah according to Romans 6. In the case of Johnís baptism, which was the baptism of repentance, those who were baptized by him identified themselves with the message of John and prepared themselves to accept the Messiah. Those who were baptized by John identified themselves with the message of the preparation of the Kingdom. Therefore, Johnís baptism is not the same as the baptism of the Church.

That is why those who were baptized by John had to be baptized later into the baptism of the Church. One example of this can be found in Acts 19:1-7. These disciples of John had received his message and they committed themselves by Johnís baptism to accept the Messiah once He was made known. Unfortunately, they had left Israel before Yeshua was identified as the Messiah. When they met Paul in Ephesus, he told them who the Messiah was. In keeping with their commitment when they were baptized by John, they received Jesus as the Messiah, so Paul then proceeded to baptize them into believerís baptism since Johnís baptism was not the same thing. We should keep in mind that the baptism which Jesus underwent was not proselyte baptism, nor was it the baptism of the Church: it was Johnís baptism of repentance. Matthew 3:14 states: But John would have hindered him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and come you to me?

John recognized that Yeshua was the Messiah and did not need to repent; He would have no need to come back to God. So why would He bother to subject Himself to Johnís baptism in light of the fact that He had no need for repentance? Obviously, He was not baptized in order to show that He was repenting from His sins; He had none. Why, then, did Yeshua subject Himself to Johnís baptism?

B. The Purpose of Jesusí Baptism

There are six basic reasons for the baptism of Jesus. First, Yeshua was baptized, in His own words, to fulfil all righteousness (Mat. 3:15). Since the basic meaning of the act of baptism is ďto be identified,Ē He was identifying Himself with righteousness. In particular, He was showing in a visible way that He was going to fulfill the righteousness of the Law; He was going to fulfill the righteousness, which the Old Testament Law and the Prophets demanded of the Messiah.

The second reason that Yeshua was baptized was to be identified with the preaching of the Kingdom. Not only was John preaching repentance - something with which Jesus did not need to be identified - but John was also preaching the coming of the King and the Kingdom.

A third reason that Yeshua was baptized was to be made known to Israel. On this occasion, He would be publicly identified as the Messiah Himself.

A fourth reason that Jesus subjected Himself to baptism was to be numbered and identified with the believing Remnant being prepared by John.

The fifth reason that Yeshua was baptized was to be identified with sinners. Not to be identified as a sinner, but to be identified with sinners, according to II Corinthians 5:21: Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Paul reaffirmed the fact that Yeshua had no sin; He knew no sin [He experienced no sin on His part but] he [was] made . . . sin on our behalf; to fulfill all righteousness. In order to fulfill all righteousness, He became sin. Thus, by connecting Matthew 3:15 with II Corinthians 5:21, He was baptized to be identified with sinners.

The sixth reason that Jesus was baptized is found in Acts 10:38: ... even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Jesus was baptized to receive the special anointing for His ministry, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Since it was at His baptism that the Holy Spirit came down on Him, by connecting what happened at the baptism with Acts 10:38, it is clear that it was on this occasion that He received His special anointing by the Holy Spirit for His mission.

At His baptism the entire Triune God appeared in that the Son was seen in the person of Yeshua standing in the water; the Holy Spirit was seen in visible form, for He came bodily in the form of a dove (Mat. 3:16, Lk. 3:22); while the third Member made His appearance, not visibly as it was with the Son and Holy Spirit, but by an audible voice. In Matthew 3:17, God the Father spoke out of heaven and said: ... and lo, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

At the baptism of Yeshua, the whole Triune God appeared. On this occasion, Yeshua was anointed by the Holy Spirit for His mission and was verbally identified as the Messiah by God the Father.

Three different times in the ministry of Jesus, God the Father spoke audibly out of heaven. The first time was at the baptism, the second time at His transfiguration, and the third time towards the end of His ministry according to John 12:28.

II. THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS

The clear relationship between the baptism of Jesus and the temptations of Jesus should not be missed. This connection is seen in two ways.

First, at the baptism of Yeshua, He said that He came to fulfil all righteousness. At the temptations of Yeshua, this righteousness was tested.

Secondly, at the baptism of Jesus, He was declared to be the Son of God by God the Father. At the temptations of Jesus, He was told to prove it.

Of the four Gospels, three deal with the temptations: Matthew, Mark and Luke. All three Gospel writers clearly point out that the temptations of Yeshua were part of the divine plan. According to Mark 1:12: And straightway the Spirit drove him forth into the wilderness.

Matthew 4:1 reads: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Luke 4:1-2a states: And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led in the Spirit in the wilderness during forty days, being tempted of the devil.

The temptations of Yeshua were part of the divine plan. All three Gospel writers who mention the temptations also mention the presence, work and leading of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was very much involved in leading the Son to a place where He would indeed be tempted.

Mark 1:12-13 tells us certain facts about the temptations of Jesus. First, the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. Secondly, He fasted for forty days. Thirdly, during those forty days He was tempted by Satan. Fourthly, He was also with the wild beasts. And the angels ministered unto him. That is all that Mark states and does not give any details regarding these temptations. The specifics of each temptation were from Matthew and Luke only.

A. Godís Purpose and Aim of the Temptations

What were these temptations all about? First, the main purpose was to prove that Yeshua was not able to sin. It was not merely to prove that He was able not to sin but, even stronger, to prove that He was not able to sin.

Secondly, Godís aim was to prove the sinlessness of the Messiah. All this was part of the divine plan. It was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness, and led Him to fast for forty days, which would weaken His physical frame and He would be open to the suggestions of Satan.

B. Satanís Aim in the Temptations

On the other hand, Satanís aim in these temptations was three-fold. First, the primary aim of Satan was to cause the Messiah to sin.

Secondly, Satan wanted to keep the Messiah from the cross by offering Him a shortcut to His messianic goal. While Satan wanted to have the Messiah killed, he did not want the Messiah to die at the proper time - the Passover; or in a proper way - by crucifixion. That is why, throughout the life and ministry of Yeshua, there are attempts to have Him killed prematurely; that is, before Passover; or in a wrong manner, such as by sword or by stoning. If the Messiah had died at any other time than the Jewish Passover; in any other way than by means of crucifixion, there would have been no atonement. That is why Satan did all he could do to keep Jesus from the cross, even to the point of offering Him a shortcut to His messianic goal, which would mean to bypass the cross.

Thirdly, for the same purpose, Satan aimed to bring about legitimate ends by illegitimate means. Indeed, it is Godís will for the Son of God to rule the Kingdoms of the world, but the means of obtaining this authority in accordance with Godís will was by means of the cross. Satan offered Yeshua a way of gaining legitimate ends but by illegitimate means.

These were Satanís aims: to cause the Messiah to sin; to keep Him from the cross; and to reach legitimate ends by illegitimate means. But Godís aim was to prove the sinlessness of the Messiah.

C. The Representative Role of Jesus

Thirdly, in these temptations, Jesus played a representative role or representative character regarding two groups of people.

1. Regarding Israel
First of all, He played a representative role with Israel, the Jewish people. This can be seen in five ways. First, in the use of the term the son of God. In Exodus 4:22-23 and Hosea 11:1, Israel as a nation was called the son of God. In Matthew 2:15 and 4:3 and 6, Yeshua is also called the son of God. Whereas Israel is the son of God nationally, Yeshua is the unique son of God individually.

The second way of seeing this relationship between Jesus and Israel in these temptations is that both testings occurred in the wilderness. I Corinthians 10:1-13 states that the wilderness was not merely a place for Israel to pass through between Sinai and Israel; it was also a place where God was testing the loyalty and faithfulness of Israel. Concerning Jesus, then, it was no accident that these temptations occurred in the wilderness. Mark 1:13 states that Jesus was in the wilderness forty days. Matthew 4:1 states that the Spirit led Him into the wilderness, and the same point is made in Luke 4:1. He was taken into the wilderness just as Israel was, and for the same reason: to be tested.

The third way this representative role between Yeshua and Israel is seen is in the figure ďforty.Ē For Israel, it was forty years in the wilderness, and for Yeshua it was forty days in the wilderness. It is no accident that the figure forty is used and that is the significant factor.

The fourth way this relationship between Jesus and Israel is illustrated in these temptations is by the presence of the Spirit. All three Gospel accounts make it clear that the Spirit was involved in leading Him into the wilderness and was there with Him (Mk. 1:12; Mat. 4:1). Luke 4:1 mentioned the Holy Spirit twice in dealing with this point. The Holy Spirit was also present with Israel in the wilderness according to Isaiah 63:7-19 where several times the Holy Spirit is mentioned as being with Israel in the wilderness.

The fifth way the relationship between the Son of God and Israel is brought out in these temptations is that when He resisted Satan by the use of Scripture, all three of Yeshuaís citations came from the Book of Deuteronomy. The Book of Deuteronomy is the covenant book between God and Israel. The word ďDeuteronomyĒ means ďsecond lawĒ and it was called that because it seems merely to repeat many of the laws already found in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. However, the purpose of Deuteronomy is not merely to repeat those laws, but to put them in the format of an ancient contract or covenant. It is no accident, then that Yeshua quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy on this occasion, because this is Godís covenant book with Israel.

In these five ways, Jesus played a representative role or a representative character, on behalf of Israel. The point is that where Israel, the national Son of God, failed; Jesus, the unique, eternal, individual Son of God, succeeded on Israelís behalf. He became Israelís substitute, not only in these temptations, but also as the final substitute, the sacrifice for sin.

2. Regarding All Men
The second representative role Yeshua played was as a representative character with all men. Hebrews 4:15 teaches that Yeshua was: ... in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

In exactly what way He was in all points tempted like as we are has often been misunderstood. People have noticed that He could not possibly have suffered every single type of temptation that we do. For example, consider the temptation to commit adultery. Only a married person can be tempted to commit adultery. Since Yeshua was never married, how could He be tempted to commit adultery?

When the writer of Hebrews 4:15 said that Jesus was in all points tempted like as we are, the expression all points does not mean that
Jesus suffered every type of temptation that we do, any more than it means we suffer every type of temptation that He did.

For example, I have never in my life been tempted to change stones into bread. I have never been tempted to do that because Satan will never tempt me to do things that I am totally incapable of doing. I can come through those kinds of temptations with flying colors. I could someday testify, ďListen, I walked through an entire rock garden and I resisted the temptation to change any stone into bread. I gained the victory!Ē I doubt that anyone would be very impressed with that kind of testimony. Everyone would know that it was not all that difficult to resist the temptation to change stones into bread because I was incapable of doing so anyway. It is easy to resist those types of temptations.

But for Jesus it was a very real temptation to change stones into bread because of two things. First, the temptation came at the end of forty days of fasting, during which time He had eaten nothing and was extremely hungry. Secondly, He had the power to change stones into bread to feed Himself. On the other hand, He was never, never tempted to spend His whole day wasting time by watching soap operas on television; He was never tempted to do that. So again, when the writer of The Epistle to the Hebrews says that He was in all points tempted like as we are, it does not mean that He suffered every specific type of temptation that we do any more than we suffer every specific type of temptation that He did.

So what does Hebrews 4:15 mean when it talks about all points? The word points simply means ďareas.Ē He suffered temptations in all of the areas that we suffer temptations: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I Jn. 2:16). Every specific temptation will fall into one of these three categories. We suffer temptations in all of these three categories and Jesus suffered temptations in all three of them as well.

For example, the temptation to change stones into bread came after a forty-day fast. During those forty days, He did not eat and He was very hungry. His flesh cried out to be satisfied because of its extreme hunger. Indeed, it is Godís will for the hunger of the flesh to be satisfied, but it was not Godís will for Yeshua to use His divine power to feed Himself. Instead, He was to feed Himself along normal and natural lines. So this first temptation was a temptation in the area of the lust of the flesh.

With the second temptation, He was taken to the pinnacle of the Temple and told to prove that He was the Son of God by throwing Himself down. If He had thrown Himself down, then Psalm 91:11- 12 would have applied; angels would have had to rush to rescue Him because He was not allowed to die before His time. They would simply have let Him down gently from the pinnacle of the Temple from which He had jumped. Furthermore, since the Temple Compound was always full of people, if they had seen Jesus jump from the pinnacle but only slowly float down to the ground, they would all have seen the miracle and instantaneously proclaim Him to be the Son of God. This temptation was to get Him to prove that He really was the Son of God. This temptation was in the area of pride of life.

The third temptation occurred when He was shown all the kingdoms of the world. He could see all the kingdoms over which He could easily reign by bypassing the cross. Satan, who is the prince of the kingdoms of the world, had every right to make this offer. Turning to Yeshua, Satan said that he would freely give Yeshua this authority if He would simply worship Satan once. This would have the advantage of bypassing the cross and still gain the messianic goal of world kingship. Yeshua could see the power and wealth that would be His; this was a temptation in the area of the lust of the eyes.

Again, when Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus did suffer temptations in all points like as we are, yet without sin, it means that Jesus suffered in all three areas of temptation listed in I John 2:16.

D. Summary

These three temptations could be summarized as follows:

The temptation to change stones into bread was a temptation in relationship to the will of God. Yeshua had to decide that while it was very much Godís will to satisfy His hunger, was it Godís will for Him to do it in this way, by using His miraculous power? The answer was ďno.Ē

The temptation where Jesus was shown all the kingdoms of the world was a test of His submission. Would He consistently submit Himself to God the Father, or would He, on this one occasion, submit Himself to the authority of Satan in order to gain the authority over the kingdoms of the world and bypass the suffering on the cross? This was a test of Jesusí submission, for it was Godís will for Him to rule over the kingdoms of the world, but this was not the manner by which God wanted Him to achieve His messianic goal.

The temptation at the pinnacle of the Temple was a test in relationship to Yeshuaís dependence upon God. There is a right way and a wrong way of depending upon God. The wrong way of depending upon God is testing God or tempting God to fulfill His promises. Indeed if Yeshua, merely on His own will and without the will of the Father, had jumped off the pinnacle of the Temple, He would have been testing Godís promises to Him. One must never test Godís promises. One must simply believe that God will fulfill His promises in His own due time. While it was Godís will for Him to be shown to be the Son of God, this was not the means of achieving it.

E. The Proper Way to Resist Temptation

The last thing about these temptations is this: When Jesus resisted these temptations, He did not rebuke Satan or call him names, nor did Jesus ďbindĒ Satan. He always resisted Satan by means of Scripture: He simply quoted appropriate Scripture. Even when Satan misapplied and misused Scripture, Jesus, by the proper use of the Scriptures, was able to resist Satan. This is the way we should resist Satan as well.

*

RECOMMENDED READING

If you enjoyed this Bible study, Dr. Fruchtenbaum recommends the following messianic Bible studies (mbs):

mbs 009: The Trial of the Messiah
mbs 016: Nicodemus, A Rabbi's Quest
mbs 020: How Did the Wise Men Know? or Is Astrology Valid?
mbs 028: The Olivet Discourse
mbs 031: Highlights of the Birth and Early Life of Jesus
mbs 035: The Three Messianic Miracles
mbs 036: The Three Sabbath Controversies Between Jesus and the Pharisees
mbs 040: The Parables of the Kingdom
mbs 043: The Confession of Peter
mbs 044: The Transfiguration of Jesus
mbs 048: Mammon of Unrighteousness
mbs 049: The Adulterous Woman
mbs 056: The Triumphal Entry
mbs 058: The Offices of the Messiah
mbs 060: The Upper Room Discourses
mbs 061: The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus
mbs 069: The Agony of Gethsemane
mbs 070: The Death and Burial of the Messiah
mbs 075: The Resurrection of the Messiah
mbs 076: The Ascension of the Messiah
mbs 094: The Sermon on the Mount
mbs 099: The Results of the Death of Messiah
mbs 127: The Birth and Early Life of the Messiah
mbs 134: How the New Testament Quotes the Old Testament
mbs 183: The Healing of the Man at the Pool of Bethesda: John 5
mbs 185: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: John 4:1-42

Many of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's studies are available for free online reading and
listening at Ariel Ministries' Come and See. All of his materials are
available for purchase at Ariel Ministries in various formats.
Other select materials and resources are
available at Ariel, as well.

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Th.M, Ph.D,
is founder and director of Ariel Ministries.


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