Genesis 5:1–7:24, Matthew 3:7–4:11, Psalm 3:1–8, Proverbs 1:10–19
The Inauguration of the Kingdom
The Baptism of Jesus by John is the formal ceremonial moment marking the inauguration of his rule as the Anointed One, the Messianic King. John the Baptist’s preaching is identified as the “voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” He warns the “children of Abraham” not to take their ethnic heritage for granted, but rather challenges them (and us) to be prepared spiritually and morally for the coming of “he who is mightier than I”, the Messiah Jesus.
With the descent of the Holy Spirit “coming to rest on him” and divine voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” the reign of Jesus as Messianic King is inaugurated. Jesus is officially and divinely established as the Son of God, the promised heir of David’s throne, as The LORD announces and the King replies:
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me,
“You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
—Psalm 2 (See also 2 Sam. 7:14)
Jesus is the Servant of the Lord, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah’s messianic prophecies where The LORD encourages:
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” —Isaiah 42:1
Jesus’ anointing is immediately tested by the devil: “If you are the Son of God….” Jesus reveals that his Kingdom will not be “of the world and their glory” (4:8) He will not fall prey to the devil’s schemes. Jesus will succeed in resisting Satan’s temptations in the wilderness where humanity in general and Israel specifically have consistently and continually failed.
The gift for the Christian in these passages is the deep knowledge that those who follow Jesus Christ are along with him called children of God with whom God is well pleased. In the Holy Spirit’s power, no temptation is irresistible to us. For those of us who have faith in him, he has transferred us from the kingdom of Satan, sin and darkness into the kingdom of God, holiness and marvelous light.
Prayer: Almighty God, thank you for inaugurating your kingdom with the anointing of Jesus Christ. I desire to follow him today and everyday; fill me with your Holy Spirit and adopt me as your child. Help me resist today’s temptations from the evil one through the power of your Word and Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
The Rev. Charlie Holt
The Church of St. John the Divine