Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Matthew 4:1-11): Why did the Spirit lead Jesus into the desert? For the son of God (which is God himself by means of the Trinity) to spend 40 days in the desert very hungry and being tempted doesn’t sound like royal treatment. Why was it important for Satan to tempt Jesus?
A. It is a divinely inspired test. In Deuteronomy 8, Moses speaks to the people and tells them that these 40 years they had been in the dessert was a test to see if they would be faithful to God and keep His commands despite temptations not to, which they kept failing. This is exactly the image that Matthew is painting for us: where Israel failed its test in the wilderness, Jesus successfully combats His temptations and confirms His role as God’s chosen or Messiah. Note that the things that Satan tempts Him with are things that could only tempt the God/man: turning stones to bread, surviving a high fall, being ruler of the world. What is behind each of these temptations — it may not be obvious — is the idea of Jesus using His power as God incarnate to circumvent the will of God the Father, which Jesus has come to serve. Jesus could make bread out of the stones, but that would mean He did not trust God to bring Him through. He could fall from a great height and survive (we presume), but that would have made Him a celebrity or even seen as a “freak” by His people: He would become famous, but not in the way God intended. And lastly, Jesus will one day rule the world, but it will be earned by enduring the cross and dying, not by worshipping Satan. Each of the temptations, then, centers around Jesus going His own way, and having power or fame or leadership outside of God’s plan. That is, ultimately, the test He passed: He submitted these desires to the Father, rather then give in to them as Israel had before.
Q. (John 1:19-28): Is this bantering supposed to be a bit humorous? The Pharisees have a hard time getting a straight answer out of John.
A. I think so. One of John’s themes (the Gospel writer I mean) will be misunderstanding between two parties, so watch for more humorous examples.
Q. (1:35-51): So, we have four disciples here: Andrew, Simon-Peter, Philip and Nathanael. Eight more ahead?
A. Yes, eight more. They will be designated as His chosen Apostles at a later date; for now, they just follow Him.
Q. (2:12): Any idea how old Jesus is at this point? Here it says he has brothers too. Will we run into family information again to where we can talk about it?
A. The Gospels are actually very unhelpful in terms of family information on Jesus’ half brothers or other family (though there are lots of legends in Church lore). Matthew 13:55 tells us the names of his brothers: James, Simon, Joseph (no doubt after their father), and Judas (which was a common Jewish name in this period). The Church tradition is that two of these brothers became known for being followers of Jesus (which is not to say His other family didn’t): James, the writer of the NT letter, who is the same man as mentioned in Matthew, Jesus’ half brother. Galatians 1:19 tells us that Paul met with Jesus’ brother, and that he was a leader of the early church in Jerusalem after the Apostles are scattered (coming soon!) Judas was sometimes shortened to Jude, which is the name of the shortest letter in the NT, and the writer mentions that he is the brother of James, which we assume to mean the brother James in question.
His family will have a role to play in the unfolding story that I won’t spoil here, but suffice it say that they were not on board with Jesus’ mission before Easter Sunday.
Q. (2:24-25): Why couldn’t Jesus trust them?
A. I honestly think its because He knew that people would not understand Him, but also that the people’s desire would be for Him to continue doing miracles as party tricks or to show off, and that was never Jesus’ purpose. He knew His mission, and entrusting Himself to people could have risked what He had come to do.